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THE 

HISTORY 

OF NATIONS 

1 I 

ANCIENT EMPIRES 




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THE HISTORY OF NATIONS 

i 

i HENRY CABOT LODGE, PhJXXLIX EDITOR-IN-CHIEF 



ANCIENT EMPIRES 
OF THE EAST 

by 

i A.H.SAYCE 

Deputy-professor of Comparative Philology, Oxford 
Honorary LL.D, Dublin 

With Gibbons HISTORY OF ARABIA 
and a sketch of the HISTORY OF ISRAEL 

Revised and Edited 
hty 

CHRISTOPHER JOHNSTON.MA.M.D.H1.D 

Associate Professor of Oriental 

History and Archaeology-The 

Johns Hopkins University 



Volume I 




Illustrated 



John D.Morris and Company 

Philadelphia 



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THE NEVf YORK 
PUBLIC LIBRARY 

5088S7A 

' ASTOR, LENOX AND 
T1LDEN FOUNDATIONS 
R 1930 L 



COPYRIGHT, I906, BY 

JOHN D. MORRIS & COMPANY 



• • -•• • 
• • • 

• • ••• • 



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THE HISTORY OF NATIONS 

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF 

HENRY CABOT LODGE. PL D..LL.D. 

Associate Editors and Autkors 



ARCHIBALD HENRY SAYCE, LL. D., 

Professor of Assyriology, Oxford Uni- 
versity 

CHRI8TOPHER JOHNSTON, M. D., 
Ph. D., 

Associate Professor of Oriental History 
and Archaeology, Johns Hopkins 
University 

C. W. C. OMAN, LL. D., 

Professor of History, Oxford University 

THEODOR MOMMSEN, 

Late Professor of Ancient History, Uni- 
versity of Berlin 

ARTHUR C. HOWLAND, Ph. D. r 

Department of History, University of 
Pennsylvania 

CHARLE8 MERIVALE, LL. D., 

Late Dean of Ely, formerly Lecturer in 
History, Cambridge University 

J. HIGGINSON CABOT, Ph.D., 

Department of History, Wellesley Col- 
lege 

SIR WILLIAM W. HUNTER, F. R. 8., 
Late Director-General of Statistics in 
India 

QEORQE M. DUTCHER, Ph. D., 

Professor of History, Wesleyan Uni- 
versity 



8IR ROBERT K. DOUGLAS, 

Professor of Chinese, King's College, 
London 

JEREMIAH WHIPPLE JENKS, Ph. D. f 
LL. D., 

Professor of Political Economy and 
Politics, Cornell University 

KANICHI ASAKAWA, Ph. D., 

Instructor in the History of Japanese 
Civilisation, Yale University 

WILFRED HAROLD MUNRO, Ph. D., 
Professor of European History, Brown 
University 

G. MERCER ADAM, 

Historian and Editor 

FRED MORROW FLING, Ph. D., 

Professor of European History, Univer- 
sity of Nebraska 

FRANCOIS AUGUSTE MARIE MIGNET, 
Late Member of the French Academy 

JAMES WESTFALL THOMPSON, Ph. D., 

Department of History, University of 
Chicago 

SAMUEL RAWSON GARDINER, LL. D., 

Professor of Modern History, King's 
College, London 

R. W. JOYCE, LL. D., 

Commissioner for the Publication of the 
Ancient Laws of Ireland 



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ASSOCIATE EDITORS AND AUTHORS 



JUSTIN MCCARTHY, LL. D„ 

Author and Historian 
AUGUSTUS HUNT SHEARER, Ph. D. v 

Instructor in History, Trinity College, 
Hartford 

W. HAROLD CLAFLIN, B. A., 

Department of History, Harvard Uni- 
versity 

CHARLES DANDLIKER, LL. D., 
President of Zurich University 



PAUL LOUIS LEGER, 

Professor of the Slav Languages, Cot' 
lege de France 

WILLIAM E. LINQLEBACH, Ph. D., 

Assistant Professor of European His- 
tory, University of Pennsylvania 
BAYARD TAYLOR, 

Former United States Minister to 
Germany 



SIDNEY B. FAY, Ph. D., 

Professor of History, Dartmouth College 

J. SCOTT KELTIE, LL. D., 

President Royal Geographical Society 

ALBERT GALLOWAY KELLER, Ph. D., 
Assistant Professor of the Science of 
Society, Yale University 

EDWARD JAMES PAYNE, M. A., 

Fellow of University College, Oxford 

PHILIP PATTERSON WELLS, Ph. D., 
Lecturer in History and Librarian of 
the Law School, Yale University 

FREDERICK ALBION OBER, 

Historian, Author and Traveler 

JAMES WILFORD GARNER, Ph. D., 

Professor of Political Science, Uni- 
versity of Illinois 

JOHN BACH MeM ASTER, LltL D., 
LL. D., 
Professor of History, University of 
Pennsylvania 

JAMES LAMONT PERKINS, Managing Editor 



ELBERT JAY BENTON, Ph. D., 

Department of History, Western Re- 
serve University 

SIR EDWARD S. CREASY, 

Late Professor of History, University 
College, London 

ARCHIBALD CARY COOLIDGE, Ph. D., 
Assistant Professor or History, Harvard 
University 

WILUAM RICHARD MORFILL, M. A. 
Professor of Russian and other Slavonic 
Languages, Oxford University 

CHARLES EDMUND FRYER, Ph. TX, 

Department of History, McGill Uni- 
versity 

E. C. OTTE, 

Specialist on Scandinavian History 

EDWARD S. CORWIN, Ph. D. v 

Instructor in History, Princeton Uni- 
versity 



The editors and publishers desire to express their appreciation for 
valuable advice and suggestions received from the following: Hon. Andrew 
D. White, LL. D., Alfred Thayer Mahan, D. C. U LL. D., Hon. Charles 
Emory Smith, LL. D., Professor Edward Qaylord Bourne, Ph. D. y Charles 
F. Thwlng, LL. D., Dr. Emli Reich, William Elliot Griffls, LL. D., Professor 
John Martin Vincent, Ph. D., LL. D., Melvil Dewey, LL. D., Alston Ellis, 
LL. D., Professor Charles H. McCarthy, Ph. D., Professor Herman V. Ames, 
Ph. D„ Professor Walter L. Fleming, Ph. D., Professor David Y. Thomas, 
Ph. D., Mr. Otto Reich and Mr. O. M. Dlckerson. 

vit 



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INTRODUCTION 

TO 

THE HISTORY OF NATIONS 



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INTRODl 

o THE HISTORY 

BY HKNRV CABOT I O!)^: 



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>f historical writings ought to be - * dear a d.-fnir:«»n as poWole 

our own conception of history io<''t, as \v( :. as of its mc;imna, 

■ i purposes, assuming, as we must, that it possesses both the^-e 

-it.^es. 

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d uvo related facts are history," an aphorism ve r y charaeU rode 
the scientific age in which it was uttered. But the saving, v, hb 
* Copyright 1904, I ienry. Cabot Lodge. 
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INTRODUCTION 11 

TO THE HISTORY OF NATIONS 

BY HENRY CABOT LODGE, PH.D., LL.D. 



THE purpose of this work is to give in compact form the his- 
tory of all modern nations and of the states and civiliza- 
tions from which they have sprung. Each volume is a 
work of authority by a writer of eminence. All not originally 
written especially for this series have been carefully edited, and, 
wherever necessary, the narrative has been brought down to the 
present day by additions and notes embodying the results of the 
most recent research and investigation. The intention is to offer 
in these volumes a general survey of history in a compendious 
and agreeable form. The value of the material thus furnished 
and thus arranged is undoubted; but much more depends upon 
the manner in which it is presented, the deductions drawn by the 
author, and the use that is then made of it by the reader than upon 
the facts and observations recorded. In other words, the true 
importance of any history or of any collection of histories lies 
in the conception of the development and attainment of man 
which is therein set forth or which we ourselves are enabled 
to draw from it. What we mean by the word history and what 
it says to us as a whole are more essential than any disconnected 
knowledge of details, however accurate and however minute. 
Our first step, therefore, on beginning any study of original sources 
or of historical writings ought to be as clear a definition as possible 
of our own conception of history itself, as well as of its meaning 
and purposes, assuming, as we must, that it possesses both these 
attributes. 

It has been wisely and wittily said that "one fact is gossip 

and two related facts are history," an aphorism very characteristic 

of the scientific age in which it was uttered. But the saying, with 

* Copyright 1904, Henry Cabot Lodge. 

xi 



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xli INTRODUCTION 

all its truth, like many other brilliant generalizations, may easily 
be pressed too far and contains an implication which is anything 
but sound. It may be quite true that collections of unrelated 
facts, whether trivial or important, or of facts presented without 
any philosophical sense or any " look before or after," merit their 
definition as "gossip"; yet we should do very wrong to under- 
estimate this same " gossip/' upon which, in common parlance, the 
name history is so often bestowed. History of the " gossip " va- 
riety is, to begin with, the foundation of all other history, upon 
which it will be necessary to say something more later. " Gossip/' 
moreover, whether light or serious, is in its best forms, especially 
in the guise of memoirs, biographies, and personal anecdotes, 
extremely entertaining. While it is read, perhaps, only for the 
sake of reading, it helps us to enjoy life and may also teach us to 
endure it. It has, too, a real value in an instructive way, although 
how great that value shall be depends upon him who receives the 
information rather than upon the writer thereof. Even if one 
gathers from " gossip " nothing but an unphilosophical, unscientific 
knowledge of people and events, much is gained ; for the man who 
knows something of the history of the race and of those who have 
played a part in the past not only has widened his own interest in 
the world about him, but, other things being equal, is a proportion- 
ately more agreeable companion to those whom he encounters 
in the journey of life. Dr. Johnson on more than one occasion 
defended desultory reading, to which he himself was very prone, 
and a wiser man than he laid it down as a maxim many years be- 
fore that " reading maketh a full man/' Therefore, let us not 
give way too much to the nineteenth century contention about 
scientific history, with its array of causes and deductions, theories 
and results, or to that other dogma of the same period, much in 
favor with writers who lack the historic imagination, that "pic- 
turesque " history is a poor and trivial thing, and that, above all, 
history must be " judicial " — a bit of cant quite as objectionable as 
that concerning the " dignity of history " which imposed upon our 
ancestors and which we have laughed out of court. There was a 
good deal of sound truth in Byron's remark about Mitford: 
" Having named his sins, it is but fair to state his virtues — learn- 
ing, research, wrath, and partiality. I call the latter virtues in a 
writer because they make him write in earnest." The history, 
indeed, to be defined as "gossip," or which remains or becomes 



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INTRODUCTION xiii 

"gossip" in the mind of him who reads, has also its very real 
merits of entertainment and of instruction as well as of imparting 
a knowledge which, however desultory and disconnected, is a good 
thing for him who has it and makes the possessor thereof more 
desirable to his fellows. The " Memoirs of St. Simon " may be 
in themselves the merest gossip that was ever set down, as they 
are certainly the most copious; but he who has looked upon these 
vivid pictures of a vanished society, whether he is imaginative 
enough to see shining upon them the red light of after years or 
not, has enlarged his own mind, widened his own interests, quick- 
ened his own intelligence, and made himself more attractive to 
others by following across these many pages the pageant of the 
great Louis and his court 

We may, indeed, go much further, if we would do full jus- 
tice to " gossip," by remembering what has already been suggested, 
that the worth of any record of the past, no matter how trivial 
or fond, depends not merely upon the mind of the writer, but upon 
that of the reader as well. According to the canons of those modern 
extremists who would make history as destitute of literary quality 
as a museum of comparative anatomy, Herodotus and Suetonius, 
Joinville and Froissart, Pepys and Walpole and Franklin would 
be rejected with contempt as historians and set down as mere 
retailers of idle " gossip " or, at best, rather untrustworthy " orig- 
inal sources." It may be readily admitted that not one of them 
ever attempted to trace properly the sequence of cause and effect 
or to draw a truly scientific deduction. They were all probably 
quite innocent of any knowledge of their duties in that respect ; yet 
not only the world but history in the truest sense would be much 
poorer and certainly much duller without them. The infinite charm 
which they all possess — from the ancient Greek, wandering about 
his little world, tablets in hand and ears open to the tales of the 
temple, the court or the market place, down to the American boy 
seeking employment as a printer in London, where he was one day 
to determine the fate of empires — attracts and will always attract 
everyone who cares for literature and to whom humanity and 
humor and the life of a dead past appeal. To those who look with 
considerate eyes into these old writers of tales and purveyors of 
"gossip," these simple chroniclers and delightfully egotistic diar- 
ists, there rise up pictures of times long past, of social conditions 
and modes of thought long dead, as well as revelations of human 



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xiv INTRODUCTION 

character and motives, rich in suggestions of historic cause and 
effect and more fertile in explanation of the fate and meaning of 
man upon earth than acres of catalogued facts scientifically classi- 
fied, or reams of calendared state papers arranged with antiquarian 
skill. The catalogues and calendars are work of high value, yet 
they have no importance until the seeing eye of the real historian 
has torn out the heart of their mystery. The gossip of the Greek 
and the Roman, of the medieval chroniclers and the eighteenth 
century diarists, have delighted and instructed thousands who 
never write and to whom the solemn words " scientific history " 
have no meaning. At the same time, to those who would seek the 
deeper meanings and link together cause and effect, they offer far 
more than barren collections of indiscriminate facts, no matter 
how well or how scientifically arranged. Herodotus may be loose 
and inaccurate and Suetonius may be malignant and filled with 
error, but what light shines from the one upon the ancient civiliza- 
tions of Asia Minor and Egypt, and how could we ever realize the 
dark shadows which overhung the glories of the Caesars without 
the grim pictures of the other? We should fare ill in any attempt 
to understand from moldering parchments alone the wonderful 
century which gave to France her royal saint and the art that pro- 
duced the Sainte-Chapelle if we could not read the simple words 
of Joinville. The English and French wars live for us in the 
rambling pages of Froissart; Pepys, besides laying bare a human 
soul, tells more of what the Restoration really was than all the pro- 
fessed historians then or since; in Walpole, greatest of English 
letter writers, we know the England of the three Georges; and 
in Franklin we can discover the secret of the loss of the American 
colonies. In all alike we get the atmosphere of the times, we 
learn to know man as he then was in those various countries and 
widely separated periods. Such knowledge can only be obtained 
from men who had literary power, observation, and imagination. 
Without such knowledge " scientific history " cannot make a be- 
ginning even, cannot advance a step. With it the seeker for cause 
and effect can find as long a chain as he may wish to forge and as 
many deductions as he may desire to draw. The " gossip " which 
is also literature is the best foundation for history, and that which 
is not literature is, after all, merely a collection of the unclassified 
facts so dear to the scientific historian, who thinks they can be 
made alive by arrangement alone. Let us not, then, be too quick 



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INTRODUCTION xv 

to throw aside " gossip " without discrimination, for when it has 
a high literary quality it will outlive scientific history in the hearts 
of men, and will, in the long run, teach them more about themselves 
and about their race than the wisest collector and classifier of facts 
who ever lived, because men will read the " gossip " and fall asleep 
over the reasoned catalogue. 

So much, then, for the unscientific, unphilosophical, discon- 
nected, desultory history, whether great literature or not, which 
we are quite ready to call " gossip," and to speak of patronizingly 
as an inferior thing, but which most of us in our heart of hearts 
really like better than any other. Let us leave it with all good 
wishes for the pleasure it has given us and the profound instruc- 
tion it has offered to those who seek instruction diligently, and 
come to the superior function of history, the true history which, 
relying solely upon itself and not upon the reader, aspires not only 
to instruct and inform, but to explain man to himself. Of its im- 
portance there can be no doubt; still less of its seriousness. His- 
tory in this aspect may easily fail to be amusing; if it is not 
literature also it will probably fail to be anything else, but properly 
written it cannot be otherwise than profoundly important and 
interesting. Here in this History of Nations, and in countless 
other volumes, lie the garnered facts, ever being increased and 
ever shifting in their proportionate importance and in their rela- 
tion to each other. What is the purpose of history in dealing 
with these facts, if in itself it is to be of any real value in the largest 
sense? There have been many answers to this question, many 
essays, most of them, it must be confessed, rather dreary, replying 
at length as to the functions and uses of history. Setting aside 
as alien to what we are now considering all that vast and valuable 
mass which may be classified as "gossip," and which is at the 
lowest estimate certainly raw material, the object of history or the 
study of history now under consideration may be briefly stated. 
There is, to begin with, the old, classical, and conventional phrase 
that history is philosophy teaching by example, which means little 
or nothing. Napoleon said that "history was the fable agreed 
upon," the quick utterance of a great genius who had never gone 
beyond the "gossip." Disraeli, readiest and most epigrammatic, 
perhaps, of the more modern public men— certainly the most un- 
English — saw use in history only as an explanation of the past, 
an excellent definition, but so limited as to make history of but little 



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xvi INTRODUCTION 

worth if it cannot pass these bounds. Emerson, in his vaguely 
beautiful essay, defines history as the record of man, tells us that 
we are history, and that history is ourselves ; in more prosaic words, 
that history is the explanation of the present. Add this definition 
to that of Disraeli and we have advanced a goodly distance, but 
history must be yet more and must go further still if it is to fulfill 
its whole function. 

In a very recent essay Mr. George M. Trevelyan has described 
the function of history in a manner as fine and a style as perfected 
and beautiful as his conception of the work of the historian is 
noble and true. The three functions of history he defines as teach- 
ing the lessons of political wisdom, spreading the knowledge of 
past ideas and of great men, and, most important of all, " causing 
us in moments of diviner solitude to feel the poetry of time/' The 
first two functions are of great worth, and it was never more 
necessary to preach their virtue and necessity than now, but they 
are the more immediate achievements of history, inseparable from 
it when rightly written, and do not reach that larger and more 
ultimate purpose which I am seeking to find and express here. It 
is in the third aspect that Mr. Trevelyan touches history in its 
highest range, when he says that it ought to make us feel the poetry 
of time and the passing of the race through many epochs along 
the highway of eternity. 

"Each changing place with that which goes before, 
In sequent toil all forward do contend/' 

Such is the poetry of time, and there lies hid the secret of man 
and his relation to the universe. 

To be more explicit, history must, it is true, explain the past, 
as Disraeli wished, and the present, as Emerson desired. But that 
is not enough. Perhaps it is impossible that it should do more; 
but history, if it is carried to the full height of our conception, 
ought also to enable us to see into the future, to calculate in some 
degree the movement of the race as we now calculate the orbit 
of the stars, and read in the past, whether dim or luminous, a con- 
nected story and a pervading law. In other words, history in the 
ultimate analysis must give us a theory of the universe as well as 
of human life and action. Has this been done? Have these masses 
of facts, gathered of late with such ant-like diligence, yet been 



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INTRODUCTION xvii 

brought into such connection? have they been so ordered and mas- 
tered as to tell a coherent story and thus explain to us the course 
of human life and conduct? If they have not, then history has 
thus far failed of its final purpose in whole or in part 

In the wonderful nineteenth century just past we have gone 
clearly beyond the simple-minded writers of annals and chronicles. 
We have learned, indeed, to regard annals and chronicles, as well 
as biographies and statistics and every phase and form of human 
activity, as primarily so much raw material, so many observations 
to be sifted and compared and grouped until they afford a theory 
or explanation of some sort for the man or the incident or the 
events to which they relate. But have we by this method as yet 
deduced a result which really explains at once the past and the 
present, which makes us not only feel the poetry of time, but which 
also throws a bright light along the pathway of the future? Have 
we attained in any degree to a working hypothesis which shall 
make clear to us the development and fate of man upon earth? 
Unless we can answer these questions quite clearly in the affirma- 
tive then history has not yet fulfilled her whole mission, and still 
sits by the roadside like the Sphinx waiting for the traveler who 
can guess her riddle. 

It is a riddle worth guessing. None more so. The genius 
who will draw out from the welter of recorded time a theory which 
will explain to man both himself and his relation to the universe 
need fear comparison with no other that has ever lived, for he 
must not only make the great discovery, but he must clothe it in 
words which will live as literature and touch it with an imagina- 
tion which will reach the heart of humanity and endure like 
the poetry of those who sang for the people when the world was 
young. 

Let us see, however, what has been accomplished; let us at 
least try to measure "the petty done, the undone vast." We 
have brought together immense masses of facts, in some cases far 
too many — so much so that their very density has caused men not 
infrequently to lose their way among details, and, having deprived 
them of the sense of proportion, has led them to mistake the par- 
ticular for the general. We are, indeed, more likely now to suffer 
from having too many facts than too few. By no possibility can 
we have, in anything which relates to human affairs, all the facts. 
Even some of the most tangible and external escape us ; and of the 



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xviii INTRODUCTION 

tangle of passions, emotions, and desires which so largely deter- 
mine the course of human events we can know but little, and must 
always be content with large inferences and with a psychology of 
the masses because that of individuals, except in a few isolated in- 
stances, is lost to us forever. Unable, therefore, to know all the 
facts, we must proceed by selection and by generalizations based 
on those dominating types which have been chosen through the 
instinct and the imagination, the very qualities that no amount of 
mere training will give. The besetting danger of the time lies 
in the tendency to reverence mere heaps of facts and to treat one 
fact, because it is such, as equal in value to every other — a doctrine 
much beloved by those who would separate history from literature 
and make it nothing more than a series of measurements or a 
classified catalogue. Facts in themselves have no value except as 
the material from which the men of high and coordinating intelli- 
gence can, by selecting and rejecting, bring forth a theory, a 
philosophy, or a story which the world will be able to read and 
understand because it is helped to do so by all the charm and all 
the light which literary art and historic imagination can give. A 
" scientific history," crammed with facts, well arranged, but un- 
readable, and at the same time devoid of art and selection, is, per- 
haps, as sad a monument of misspent labor as human vanity can 
show. None the less, after all deductions, the accumulation of 
facts, if properly used and then supplemented by all the resources 
of literary art, is absolutely essential to the highest history, for 
laws governing human development rest, like those of science, in 
large degree on the number of recorded observations, and find 
in that way control and correction. This is especially true in the 
case of archaeology, which is daily adding so enormously to our 
knowledge of early civilizations in Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Asia 
Minor, as well as in the Greek islands and peninsula, and which 
thus enables us to make those comparisons, stretching over long 
periods of time, upon which any stable theory of the movement 
of civilized mankind must ultimately rest To this must also be 
added the scientific investigation into the condition of prehistoric 
man and of primitive tribes and races, our prehistoric contem- 
poraries, from which alone it is possible to draw the widest deduc- 
tions as to the primary development of what we call civilized man. 
To put this first proposition in a few words, we have in the last 
one hundred years gathered, and in a large measure arranged 



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INTRODUCTION xix 

intelligently, the necessary material to which we are still adding, 
and which is an essential preliminary to writing history in the 
highest sense of the word. 

We have also passed definitely and finally out of the stage 
where history was considered too solemn and too dignified to 
have any of the attractions of what is frankly " gossip," and yet 
remained nothing but a stringing together of facts, as if they were 
single beads, each separated from the others by a dividing and 
impassable knot. The habit is now ingrained in all writers of 
history, even if they are merely dealing with an episode or prepar- 
ing a monograph, to lead up from cause to effect, to point out the 
sources of an event, the culmination of the various compelling 
forces and the ultimate results, or else to arrange the narrative in 
such wise that the reader must perforce draw his own deductions 
and thus learn the lesson which the author desires to impart. 
This method of dealing with history varies, of course, most widely 
in the extent of its application. It may be applied to a single inci- 
dent or to the occurrences of a few years ; or, on the other hand, it 
may stretch over the centuries, seeking in past generations the 
distant conditions from which sprang finally some great event ; or, 
again, it may strive to connect with the phenomena of our modern 
times remote causes which are dimly discerned in the dawn of 
civilization, and in this way establish a law which shall govern 
the entire movement of humanity. 

It is this search for cause and effect which has been the dis- 
tinguishing feature of historical work in the nineteenth century. 
No doubt the practice has existed, sporadically at least, since his- 
tory began to be written; but in the last century it became the 
dominant note, the ruling characteristic to which all writers 
aspired, although naturally with varying degrees of success. That 
which we seek here is to estimate approximately to what point 
the increased knowledge, the multiplied observations, and the sys- 
tem of tracing out cause and effect have brought us on the road to 
fulfilling the highest function of history. We can see very readily 
that in the explanation of the past and the present much has been 
achieved. For example, the causes which led to the revolt of the 
American colonies against England, or to the French Revolution, 
have been studied not only in the immediately preceding years, but 
have been patiently tracked through the centuries, and sought not 
merely in political and economic conditions, but in the qualities, 



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xx INTRODUCTION 

habits, and characteristics of the people and in the attributes and 
ethnic peculiarities of the stocks from which these historic races 
were formed. The time when it was possible to treat great 
and violent changes of this kind as isolated events, growing sud- 
denly out of surrounding conditions, has passed away never to 
return. 

Having thus reached the point where it is not only possible 
but habitual to explain philosophically and on logical principles a 
past event, it is but a short step to find in past events, properly 
arranged and treated, the explanation of the present in any given 
country or in any group of countries similar, if not identical, in 
race and in the character of their civilization. It is also true that 
modern history, advancing from the explanation of a given event 
or of an important era by tracing its causes through a long suc- 
cession of years, has gone on to the work of following out through 
the entire historic period tendencies of thought or art, of literature 
or morals, as well as the religious, economic, and political move- 
ments of mankind. The results of these investigations have been 
more illuminating probably than anything else which has been 
accomplished. From these researches, which have embraced an- 
thropology, philology, psychology, literature, and archaeology, as 
well as history proper, a brilliant light has been cast upon much 
that before seemed shrouded in hopeless darkness, and a multitude 
of problems which puzzled the will and baffled the imagination 
have been made plain. From this source has come the theory of 
myths and folklore; the development of the identity of certain 
fundamental religious beliefs in all the many families of mankind ; 
the reduction to a very small number of the absolutely different 
races of men; a knowledge of the often unexplained migrations 
of vast bodies of people, of the economic conditions, the trade, 
the commerce, the industries, and the discoveries of mineral, which 
have played such a large and so often a controlling part in human 
affairs, and of the military and political attributes and tendencies 
which have so largely, in appearance at least, determined the fate 
of states and empires. 

Yet the final question is still unanswered. The world still 
awaits a theory or an explanation of the movement of mankind 
as a whole which shall make clear the entire past, show whence 
we have come, why we have marched in the manner recorded along 
the highways of time, whither we are going, and in what direction 



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INTRODUCTION xxi 

we must go, by a proof as resistless as the fall of the apple to the 
ground, which, as we assert, conclusively demonstrates what we 
call the law of gravitation. 

To reach this ultimate goal we must have a theory of the 
universe, and the necessity of such a theory has been perceived 
more or less dimly or more or less clearly by all serious historians 
from the time when history first began to be written with any other 
purpose than that of making a brief abstract and chronicle of the 
time. The theory of the universe and of life upon which historians 
proceeded either deliberately or unconsciously down to the latter 
half of the eighteenth century was, broadly speaking, the theo- 
logical theory. The doctrines, the dogmas, and the formulas of 
theologians and priests furnished the underlying theory upon which 
historians worked out their results, and this was as true of the East 
as of the West, of Asia as of Europe, of the writers of antiquity as 
of the schoolmen of the Middle Ages. In the last analysis history 
fell back upon theology, and accepted its formulas and its philos- 
ophy as giving the final answer whenever the historian sought to 
set forth an explanation of man's existence upon earth, or to show 
the connection and relation of events in the life of humanity. 

In the eighteenth century the spirit of skepticism and inquiry 
rose up and took possession of the thought of Western civilization. 
In dealing with history its resources were meager, its material 
was limited, and its methods crude. Voltaire, who represented 
that skeptical spirit in its most powerful and concentrated form, 
and who exercised a wide and profound influence to a degree 
which it is now difficult even to imagine, was simply destructive. 
He struck at the theological conceptions and explanations of past 
events with penetrating force and with weapons of the keenest 
edge, but the simplicity of his attack is only equaled by his igno- 
rance of the real meaning of the traditions and habits of thought 
at which he aimed his blows. None the less the work of the eight- 
eenth century was effective so far as it went. It tore the theological 
theories of the universe to tatters and scattered the fragments 
to the four winds of heaven. It was unable to replace that which 
it destroyed, but it cleared the ground, and to this inheritance the 
next century succeeded. The old theories were discredited. The 
way was open to construct a new one. 

The nineteenth century was preeminently scientific. Science 
during that period was the ruling force in the domain of thought, 



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xxii INTRODUCTION 

and its discoveries and advances are the monuments of its mar- 
velous success. But its influence has spread far beyond its own 
province. In every direction the methods of science have been 
adopted and its standards set up as the best methods and the loftiest 
standards for all forms of thought and inquiry. History, there- 
fore, during the last hundred years has sought to make itself and 
to call itself scientific as the highest quality at which it could aim ; 
and the devotion to facts, the search for truth at all costs, the 
rigid deductions, coldly regardless of sentiment or prejudice, have 
all been attributes borrowed from science and of immense value to 
historical results. The study of history pursued in this way, and 
carried into adjoining fields of research like anthropology, archae- 
ology, and philology, has brought about a complete readjustment 
of many of our ideas as to the development of man and his relations 
to the universe. Indeed, it is scarcely realized how penetrating 
the influence of history governed by scientific methods has been, 
and what a revolution it has wrought, for the most part quite in- 
sensibly, in all our conceptions as to the existence, meaning, and 
fate of the human race. 

That this has been accomplished at a loss, and a serious loss, 
to history as literature can hardly be denied. Modern history of 
the purely scientific and judicial variety has thus far been unable 
to sustain the literary glories of the past. Thucydides and Tacitus 
and Gibbon were by no means wanting in a theory of the universe 
or of the life of man. They were masters of their subjects and of 
their material, and they were also most distinctly philosophers, 
reasoners, and thinkers, although not given over to modern scien- 
tific methods ; yet they still stand alone and unrivaled in literature, 
and would wonder greatly to be told that we cannot have serious 
history or a philosophy of life until we cease to be picturesque. 
They would marvel even more to be told that it is the fashion to 
hold that we must be " judicial " to the point of never taking sides, 
and usually of sustaining a paradox; that if we would really be 
historians we must assume that the accepted opinion is wrong 
because it is accepted, and must close our eyes firmly to the splendid 
pageant of the years which have gone if we would win the praise 
of the antiquarian, the specialist, or the learned society. We owe 
much to the adoption of scientific methods in history; but if we 
give way to the intolerable dogma that history in order to be really 
scientific must divest itself of all connection with literature, it 



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INTRODUCTION xxiii 

would be better never to have attempted those methods and to 
have blundered along in the old way. When Mr. Bury, the Regius 
Professor of History at Cambridge, announces " that history is 
not a branch of literature " he advances a proposition which if 
adopted would kill history, and which could by no possibility give 
us science in its place. Imagination is no doubt one important 
quality among others in the really great men of science, but it is 
absolutely essential to the great historian, for without imagination 
no history worthy of the name can be written. Very valuable re- 
sults can be achieved without it in the physical sciences, because 
their phenomena are devoid of the spiritual and emotional ele- 
ments; but the history of man is in large measure governed or 
modified by passion, sentiment, and emotion, and cannot be gauged 
or understood without the sympathy and the perception which only 
imagination and the dramatic instinct can give. Moreover, his- 
tory is utterly vain unless men can learn something from it ; they 
cannot learn unless they read, and they will neither read nor 
understand unless the theory or the doctrine drawn forth from 
the winnowed facts is presented to them with all the grace and 
force which style can give and with all the resources of a beautiful 
literary art. The worst enemies of scientific methods are those 
who would, in the name of science, reduce history to a sifted dust 
heap and who decry the art of literature because they cannot master 
it, although without it history has never yet been written and 
never will be able to speak to men or to give them the explanation 
of their existence, if that great secret is ever discovered in all its 
completeness. 

But the literary side of historical development, and without 
which it cannot continue, is not, after all, what concerns us here 
further than to point out its absolute necessity, if we would effect 
anything of lasting worth. It is in the achievements of modern 
scientific history, not yet ruined by its unreasoning devotees, that 
we must look for the dial hand of progress; and however dryly 
the fashion of the moment or personal incapacity may have com- 
pelled historians to state the conclusions thus reached, here are to 
be found the latest steps which have been taken toward the goal of 
that history which shall give us, if such a thing is possible, the full 
explanation which we seek. It is along the lines followed by mod- 
ern history that we must proceed in our quest, but thus far these 
lines have been separate. One subject or one tendency has in turn 



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xxiv INTRODUCTION 

and each by itself been traced out from the beginning, and the 
theory or law which has governed in each case has frequently been 
evolved and stated with the utmost care and acuteness. But the 
lines have not yet converged, the theories have not yet been 
grouped, the various laws still await the genius who shall cast them 
into a code. 

The stupendous difficulties of the task must not be under- 
estimated. Perhaps it is beyond the power of man to develop 
and state a great law of life, a comprehensive theory of the uni- 
verse, when he must perforce rest it not merely upon a vast mass 
of recorded observations and classified facts, but must throughout 
allow for what no other scientific man need make allowance — the 
unending perturbations caused by human passion, human emotion, 
and unreasoning animal instincts. One thing alone is certain: no 
single theory dealing with one set of facts and one set of passions 
and tendencies can ever explain everything. The forces which 
have started the great migrations, the religious passions, the politi- 
cal aptitudes, can each explain much; the economic movement can 
probably explain more than any single clew, and yet no one of 
them alone is sufficient to make clear all that has happened and 
weave the many threads into a final answer to the riddle of the 
Sphinx, who waits and watches by the roadside as the procession 
of mankind marches by in endless files. 

Yet is there here no reason for discouragement. Every fail- 
ure of a proper attempt to reach that final and complete solution 
of the great enigma which history alone can give, if it is ever to be 
given at all, has advanced us in knowledge. It is much better to 
look at what has been accomplished than to sigh over the undone, 
fold our hands in despair and content ourselves by saying, like 
the scientific professor of history, that all we can do is to heap up 
more facts for distant generations to use. The answer may not 
yet have been found; but the light is growing brighter, and the 
prospect of attaining to a complete reply, if no nearer, seems at 
least clearer than ever before. Even to realize where we fall short 
is, if not very hopeful, very instructive, and opens the only possible 
path to future success. 

The theological theory, then, which was so long dominant 
has been swept away and history has fallen under the control of 
scientific processes. It has not only assimilated the methods of 
science, but it has striven to deduce from its own phenomena 



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INTRODUCTION xxv 

the doctrines which science in the latter half of the nineteenth 
century adopted and promulgated. It has, in short, substituted 
for the theological theory that of science. So far as it has had 
any definite purpose it has aimed to show, like the science of the 
last fifty years, that the true explanation of man's existence and 
movements is mechanical ; that at bottom we must fall back on the 
" fortuitous concourse of atoms/' and that a continuous evolution 
is the sole guide in the maze of human affairs, as it has been par- 
tially shown to be in the animal world. And now, even while his- 
tory is advancing on these lines, science is pausing in doubt, the 
mechanical theory seems to be breaking down, the " fortuitous con- 
course of atoms " is being abandoned, the limitations of evolution 
are becoming constantly clearer, the younger biologists no longer 
trust implicitly the dogmas of the later years, and Lord Kelvin 
announces that the last word of the latest science indicates a rever- 
sion to the doctrine of a governing law. Is history to go on in the 
old ways, which but yesterday were new, or is it to pause, as science 
has paused, and turn again, not to the old theological theory, but 
to one which involves a general and permanent law of the universe 
and of life? 

What has history herself to say, speaking from her own ex- 
perience and enlightened by her own efforts ? What have the pro- 
found research and the acute deductions of these later years to 
produce by way of solving the problem of what her future course 
shall be? Has history been able to show a process of evolution 
so continuous as at once to demonstrate that men from the begin- 
ning, despite many aberrations, have moved along one line, com- 
pelled thereto by environment and by their physical and mental 
structure, thus proving that humanity has been governed by 
mechanical processes as completely as science very recently held 
all physical developments to be, whether in the heavens above or 
in the earth beneath? Or, on the other hand, has history, like 
science, apparently failed to maintain the mechanical theory and 
found the " fortuitous concourse of atoms " insufficient to support 
the facts which she herself has brought to light? Has the Dar- 
winian doctrine of evolution as applied to the events of history 
disclosed there also limitations which make it appear incomplete 
and at best tentative? 

Looking broadly at the situation as it is to-day, the story of 
man upon earth seems to fall into two divisions, the prehistoric 



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1/ 



xxvi INTRODUCTION 

and the historic periods. The earliest knowledge that can in any 
proper sense be called historical, or which rests upon records of 
any sort, is imparted to us by the remains of the civilizations of 
Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Western Asia. These civilizations, as 
revealed to us by the latest archaeological discoveries, appear to 
have been substantially at the point where we ourselves were a 
century ago, and if not complete were certainly in a stage of high 
development. How and by what processes that position was 
reached we do not and probably can never know. A long road 
certainly had been traveled before it was attained. The start- 
ing point is dim. The earliest human skulls which have been 
found do not differ more widely in size and shape from the skulls 
of men to-day than the skulls of several actually existent races 
vary from each other. They leave unbridged and substantially 
undiminished the gulf which yawns between the skulls of races 
now existent and the most highly developed ape. Man, therefore, 
as we know him, is not fundamentally different physically from 
the earliest progenitor who can be distinctly recognized as a man, 
a human being in our sense of the word. But the gap between 
the earliest man known to us, between the man of the drift or the 
shell heap, for instance, and the neolithic man, is immense, although 
it is trifling compared to the chasm which separates the man of flints 
from the man who lived under the earliest Egyptian dynasties, who 
reared the first buildings by the Nile, or who constructed the first 
palaces of Babylonia, drained the streets and house of her cities 
and codified her laws. We find man at the outset with nothing 
apparently except the discovery of fire, although we must infer 
a period when even the use of fire was unknown ; and then we find 
him with weapons of stone, at first rudely and then ingeniously 
worked; with pottery and with indications of some use of metals 
in the form of pins or copper models of stone implements for war 
or the chase. Then we plunge into darkness again, and when we 
emerge we behold a man possessed of language and written char- 
acters, who has organized society and government and enacted 
laws; who has invented the wheel for locomotion, mastered the 
application of animal or muscular power; who has developed a 
splendid architecture and a noble art; who understands engineer- 
ing, carries on an extensive commerce, marshals armies and con- 
ducts wars with ordered legions. The distance from the man who 
applied and controlled fire, the greatest single discovery ever made, 



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INTRODUCTION xxvii 

and from the later man who was able to chip stone, fabricate 
weapons, and make pottery, to the man who could do all this, 
staggers imagination when we strive to guess at what had hap- 
pened and been accomplished in the interval. We seem to pass at 
a single bound from the dimly conceived being who, stark naked 
or dressed perhaps in skins, was savage to a degree beyond our 
power of description, and who waged an unequal war with mon- 
strous animals, to men who are so like us in comparison with what 
had gone before that it seems as if the solemn Egyptian kings and 
the makers of the winged bulls were our own kin and lived but 
yesterday instead of dwelling on the misty verge of recorded time. 
In that long interval which elapsed between the earliest trace of 
man onward and upward from the discovery of fire to the time of 
these ancient civilizations, what happened? By what steps has 
man, or rather certain tribes and races of men, climbed to such a 
height? We do not know, probably we never shall know more 
than reasonable conjecture can tell; yet the inference seems irre- 
sistible, inevitable we may almost say, that during that period of 
darkness there was a steady process of evolution advancing slowly 
but surely by the discovery and development of forces which radi- 
cally changed the environment and all the conditions surrounding 
the race to a position where man had essentially all that he pos- 
sessed a hundred years ago. These ancient civilizations and their 
successors ripen as we approach the Christian era. Their art was 
refined, their language was perfected, their literature attained to 
imperishable beauty; they widened their geography and increased 
the sum of knowledge, but there was no radical change of environ- 
ment, there were no new forces to compel such a change. In the 
earliest civilizations really known to us we find that men had arms 
and arts, architecture and letters, organized government and sys- 
tems of laws, commerce, war, armies, means of transportation by 
land and water. All these things they perfected down to the fall of 
the Roman empire; but they added no new force like fire or the 
wheel, like linguistic symbols or organized society, such as they 
had brought slowly forth in the prehistoric days. 

When the empire of Rome went to pieces Western Europe 
sank into a period of anarchy, in which all the arts, whether orna- 
mental or economic, and all forms of organizations retrograded, 
and the period known as the Dark Ages set in. The traditions of 
science and learning, of literature and art, were kept alive only 



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xxviii INTRODUCTION 

by Byzantium in the East, where they were destined to disappear 
under the onset of the Ottoman Turks, and by the Moors in Spain. 
Slowly and painfully new systems, new states, and a new social 
order were evolved from the welter of destruction which followed 
the downfall of Rome; and out of these new movements came at 
last the Renaissance, the revival of learning, the junction of the 
present with the classical past, and thence modern civilization. But 
through all these chances and changes, alike through the rise and 
fall of Egypt and Chaldea, of Assyria and Persia, through the 
supremacy of Greece and the final dominion of Rome, as well as 
through the Middle Ages and the growth of our modern civiliza- 
tion, there was no fundamental change in the conditions and 
achievements such as we find indicated at the close of the pre- 
historic period. No new forces had come into play to alter the 
development of man. States and empires had waxed and waned; 
there had been great migrations of peoples, great shiftings of the 
centers of military, political, and economic power. We can trace 
these movements, we know their causes, we understand the influ- 
ence of mineral wealth and of trade routes, but the foundations 
are undisturbed. In the eighteenth century, as in the time of the 
earliest Egyptian dynasty, men still depend on themselves and on 
animals as the source of power; they have the wheel for transpor- 
tation, the written word for communication; they reap and sow 
and build and have literature and the fine arts. The bounds of 
knowledge have widened, broadening far in the days of Greece and 
Rome, and then contracting after the fall of the empire only to 
widen again after the fourteenth century and then stretch farther 
and farther out with each succeeding year. Still there is no vital 
change. The art of war is revolutionized by the introduction of 
gunpowder, the acquisition of knowledge is made easy by the 
invention of printing; but these two things apart, the man of the 
eighteenth century does not differ essentially from the Egyptian 
or the Babylonian, from the Greek or the Roman, in the conditions 
of life or in his relations to the earth and his fellow-men. He still 
travels with the horse on land and with the wind or the oar at sea. 
His journeys are still along paths and trails and roads or by canals, 
rivers, and ocean. He knows the earth and its extent more com- 
pletely than the Roman, but it is probable the roads and methods of 
communication were better under Rome so far as they extended 
at all than they were a hundred years ago. One civilization has 



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INTRODUCTION xxix 

succeeded another, new states have risen, old ones flourished and 
decayed; the economic equilibrium has shifted and trade routes 
have altered, carrying prosperity to one kingdom and ruin to an- 
other; the fine arts have taken on new forms and developments 
among different peoples, have touched the heights, blazed with 
splendor and gone out only to shine again in some new home. But 
still there has been no fundamental change. No empire, no state, 
no civilization seems to have passed beyond a certain point which 
others had already achieved. The scene shifts, the accessories 
change, but the drama is the same. If there had been a steady 
and scientific evolution in the prehistoric period, after the close of 
that period the evolution of the most highly developed portions of 
mankind seems to have ceased. The movements are all sporadic, 
and never get beyond the point which the most ancient civilization, 
when it emerges from the darkness to greet our eyes, had in all 
essential things already at hand. There is no indication that man 
has improved physically since the day when history began. That he 
has advanced in his moral attributes and conceptions under the 
influence of religion we can hardly refuse to believe, if we would, 
and the facts by any test furnish sufficient proof that man's attitude 
to his fellows is finer and better, even if we have improved in no 
other way. On the other hand, although we know more, there can 
be no doubt that man is no stronger as an intellectual being than 
he was when Plato taught and Sophocles composed his tragedies, 
when Phidias carved and Zeuxis painted and Pericles fought and 
governed. In the fine arts, indeed, it is difficult to see that, except 
in rare instances, man has ever attained a higher standard in 
sculpture or architecture, of which alone we are able to judge with 
certainty, than he reached in the earliest civilization. 

It must always be carefully borne in mind that there is a 
broad distinction between the elaboration or perfection of an ex- 
isting art or a discovered force and the successive introduction of 
new forces which lead on to a different structure of society and 
to conditions wholly different from what has gone before. The 
latter is a true scientific evolution, no matter how infinitesimal 
the advance or how slow the movement which destroys the unfit 
and causes the survival of those fittest to survive. The mere 
elaboration or perfection of existent arts and forces, although they 
may exhibit in a distinctly limited way the operations of the laws 
of evolution, do not, in the broad scientific sense, constitute a race 



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xxx INTRODUCTION 

evolution which can supply us with an explanation of the de- 
velopment of the race as a whole, or with a theory of the universe 
or of life. The discovery of the means by which fire could be 
applied and controlled whenever it occurred changed all the con- 
ditions surrounding the race of men. It was a true evolutionary 
step in the development of the race, and the Promethean myth 
shows how the tremendous impression of its effects survived 
through ages the length of which we cannot calculate. The same 
may be said of the application of animal power, of the invention 
of written symbols, of the organization of society, of the art of 
building. But the elaboration and perfection of architecture, the 
refinement of written characters into a literature, the increase of 
size in boats or vessels when propulsion by wind or muscle had 
once been discovered are not an evolutionary progress of the race 
in any true sense, nor do they furnish a general law to explain the 
entire mystery of humanity. The men who first discovered the 
process of making bricks, and then the further possibility of so 
putting stones or bricks together as to make a permanent structure 
to shelter their gods, their dead or their living, took a long step on 
the path of evolution. But this step once taken, the men who built 
the temples of Egypt or of Nippur or the Lion Gate of Mycenae, 
the Parthenon of Athens, the Colosseum of Rome, or the Gothic 
cathedrals of France, were expressing the same invention in differ- 
ent forms, but they were not carrying forward at all the evolution 
of the race. These forms of surpassing strength, grandeur, and 
beauty were evolved, no doubt, from the principles of the rude be- 
ginnings which constituted the scientifically evolutionary step; but 
it was the original discovery which was evolutionary and not the 
refinement and elaboration which followed and which failed to 
change the fundamental conditions of the race. It is very essential 
to keep clearly in mind the distinction between the evolution of the 
race, as a whole, through a vital change in environment and condi- 
tions necessitating a corresponding adaptation and alteration in the 
life of man and in the organization of society, and on the other 
hand the evolution of a given art or society, or of an economic 
structure or political state. From the discovery of the means by 
which a fire could be kindled and controlled to the lamps of the 
Roman or the Greek is a long process of evolution in the use of 
fire, but does not touch the general evolution of the race. The 
original discovery changed vitally the conditions which surrounded 



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INTRODUCTION xxxi 

man and forced him into a new environment to which he was 
obliged slowly to adapt himself, but the improvements and exten- 
sions of the use of fire had in themselves no such effect The pro- 
cess by which men advanced from picture writing to the plays of 
Euripides and Aristophanes is of great importance in the evolution 
of language, but it was the invention of a symbol for human speech 
which altered the environment of man and not the improvements 
and developments of such symbols. The secret we would wring 
from the past is not the law governing the evolution of any par- 
ticular state or people, of any especial art or form of social organ- 
ization, but what the forces are which in their union have changed 
the environment of humanity and which will give us a law that 
explains the entire movement of the race, solves the mystery of 
existence and defines with a single answer man's relation to the 
universe. We can readily understand the difference between the 
essentially evolutionary step and that which is only an elaboration 
of a discovery already made, if we can imagine the world divested 
of all that has come into it through the agency of steam and elec- 
tricity and then contrast it with that which existed under the ancient 
civilizations. The men who separated the American colonies from 
England and carried through the revolution in France, events 
which together changed the entire political system of America and 
Western Europe, possessed gunpowder and printing, but beyond 
these two things they did not differ essentially in their environ- 
ment from the men of the ancient civilizations. Like the Egyp- 
tian, the Assyrian, the Greek, and the Roman, they still depended 
upon the muscles of men and animals or on the wind, the rivers or 
the tides for power. They propelled their boats by sails or oars, 
they traveled on horseback ; and in war and peace their transport 
rested on wheels, which they caused to revolve by the force of 
draft animals or of men. After developing new forms of archi- 
tecture they had reverted to the ancient models, and it may be 
safely said that they never surpassed the work of the builders of 
the Parthenon or of the tombs and temples of Egypt. Modern 
engineering has yet to show whether it can rival the Pyramids, 
or outdo the engineers whose lofty bridge over the Gard still stands 
with its tiers of arches, after nineteen hundred years, absolutely 
plumb, and along which 

" Men might march on nor be pressed 
Twelve abreast" 



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xxxii INTRODUCTION 

How much of our pavement will remain after two thousand 
years ? There are miles of Roman pavement still to be found scat- 
tered over Europe from Italy to Scotland. How much better is 
our system of water supply than that which the great aqueducts 
striding across the plains brought to Rome and to her provincial 
towns? Have we improved materially upon the Cloaca Maxima 
or the almost perfect arched drain in the deepest excavation of 
Nippur? Have we carried architecture or painting or sculpture 
further than it was carried in Egypt or in Greece? We may go 
over the whole field and the results will be everywhere the same, 
and all alike will point to the same conclusion, that from the earliest 
civilizations historically known to us down to the close of the 
eighteenth century there had been no change in environment and 
conditions sufficient to warrant the assertion of a continuous evolu- 
tion such as we must have if we are to find in it a general law and 
complete explanation. The stream of civilization rises and falls, 
plunges out of sight in one place and reappears in another, but it 
never cuts new channels or reaches a higher plane or flows with a 
broader current than it apparently possessed at the dawn of re- 
corded history. Evolution of the race in the sense in which it is 
used here must go steadily forward without a break, compelled 
thereto by successive radical changes in race environment. No 
matter how minute or how slow the advance it cannot stand still ; 
and variety alone or mere shifting of place is not advance, although 
it may be movement. Thus it seems, speaking broadly, that dur- 
ing the historic period and down to the closing years of the 
eighteenth century there has been no true race evolution in the 
proper sense of the word or in the manner in which we may 
reasonably infer it to have existed and proceeded down to the 
time of historical records. It would seem, if this be true, that 
there are marked limitations upon the doctrine of evolution in his- 
tory as there are in science, and the difficulty is one which history 
itself must meet. 

But there is a still further difficulty if we consider the period 
just preceding the present day, for there we find strong evidence 
of a resumption of the real evolutionary movement of the race if 
we may assume that such a movement went on in prehistoric 
times; and history is in this way confronted with the demand that 
it should enunciate some law which shall cover not only the periods 



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INTRODUCTION xxxiii 

pf evolution, but also the space filled with intense activity in which 
no evolution took place. This demand becomes apparent if we 
examine closely the very latest period in the life of humanity, the 
one through which we have been and are at this moment passing. 
To make clear what this latest period means it is necessary briefly 
to summarize and restate the proposition which has just been laid 
down. We find man at the opening of the nineteenth century with 
a vastly extended knowledge, with greatly advanced methods of 
killing other animals, including himself, and with highly improved 
machinery for transmitting and diffusing his knowledge through 
the medium of printed speech. Otherwise he does not differ in 
any radical manner from his predecessor on the upper Nile, in the 
temples of Nippur, the streets of Bactra, or within the walls of 
Tiryns or Mycenae. To men in this condition came suddenly two 
new forces, in the practical application of steam as power and of 
electricity, first as a means of transmitting thought and knowledge 
and then as a form of power also. These new forces have changed 
the face of the world and radically altered human conditions, cre- 
ating a wholly new environment, by the quickening of transporta- 
tion and communication and by bringing the whole earth so easily 
within the grasp of the dominant races that it is nearly all reduced 
to possession in name and will soon be so in reality. There is no 
need to point out or dwell upon the marvels which have thus been 
wrought out or the social and political revolutions which have been 
effected. Gunpowder and printing worked social and political revo- 
lutions in their time also. The important point for us now is that 
under the mastery of these new forces, which have produced a new 
environment, another period of regular and scientific evolution 
has apparently set in; and the new movement, which is chiefly 
economic and social, has gone on not only with regularity, but 
with an accelerated momentum which is little short of appalling. 
Here, under these new forces, we are not carrying the well-under- 
stood civilization of the past five thousand or six thousand years 
once more to a pitch of splendor, but we are producing a civiliza- 
tion and a social system wholly different from what has gone before. 
To speak more exactly, we are pushing forward the civilization 
we have inherited from the countless centuries beyond all the 
former limits and on to heights or depths never before touched. 
The phenomena of this resultant of the new forces are largely 



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xxxiv INTRODUCTION 

economic on the surface, but they are at bottom not only economic 
but social. We are creatures of habit, and we still express the 
new forces in terms of the only power the race knew for many 
thousands of years; but what we have actually done is to change 
the world from the horse to the engine, from the man to the 
machine. We are rapidly increasing this force estimated in horse 
power until it has already gone well-nigh beyond imagination. 
And still we are increasing it, still concentrating the whole move- 
ment of the world and the daily life of humanity on the production 
of machine power, heedless alike of the velocity at which we are 
traveling, or the fact that a single break at any point might mean 
ruin and desolation such as the world has never known. Armed 
with this power we are tearing out the resources of the earth with 
entire disregard of the future, and heaping up wealth in a pro- 
fusion and in masses such as the world never before imagined even 
in its dreams. 

But the one fact more important than any other is that a 
process of steady evolution, owing to a change in the conditions 
surrounding humanity, seems to be again in progress. Can his- 
tory explain this present time in which, borne on by new and un- 
tried forces, we are passing beyond any civilization hitherto known, 
or predict the future which this present portends? Can history, 
with the assistance of archaeology, anthropology, geology, and the 
rest, do this and by researches in the prehistoric times, when there 
must have been evolution, owing to radical discoveries and changes 
and by the local and limited evolution in specific cases in modern 
times, tell us the manner in which this new evolutionary power 
is going to work? Are we to infer that because the movement 
of our own time appears to rest upon the conservation, concen- 
tration, and control of energy, and upon the development of nat- 
ural forces to that end, that therefore the movement of prehistoric 
times must have had the same evolutionary process at work and 
that here we are to find at last the clew to the development of 
the race? Can history bring all the periods within the operation 
of one harmonious law and the scope of a single explanation? 
The purely mechanical theory of the universe seems to have 
broken down under science. It has also failed apparently to ex- 
plain finally and completely the history of man. Must history, 
like science, return upon her steps and seek for some new gov- 
erning law which shall succeed where dogma was defeated and 



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INTRODUCTION xxxv 

where evolution fell short of the final goal ? A new period, bring- 
ing with it forces and conditions hitherto unknown, confronts mod- 
ern history. Unless she can solve the problem it presents, unless 
she can bring forth a theory of the universe and of life which 
shall take up the past and from it read the riddle of the present 
and draw aside the veil of the future, then history in its highest 
sense has failed. To the men of the twentieth century comes the 
opportunity to make the effort which shall convert failure to 
success, if success be possible. 



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PREFACE 



Professor Sayce's work, "The Ancient Empires of the East/' 
which forms the basis of the present volume, first appeared in 1883 
as an appendix to his edition of the first three books of Herodotos, 
and was republished separately the following year. Since then it 
has enjoyed great popularity and has gone through several editions, 
though no material change has been made in the text Within the 
last two decades, however, cuneiform and Egyptian research have 
steadily progressed, many important discoveries have been made, 
and the study of ancient Oriental history has been fairly revolution- 
ized. The Tell-el-Amarna Tablets, discovered in Middle Egypt in 
the winter of 1887-1888, have thrown much new light upon Western 
Asia and its relations with Egypt in the fourteenth and fifteenth 
centuries b. c, and have given a vivid picture of the state of Pales- 
tine immediately before the Hebrew invasion. And the famous code 
of Hammurabi, found at Susa in December, 190 1, has yielded a 
remarkable insight into the state of Babylonian society in the third 
millennium b. c, while invaluable historical data have been gathered 
from the prologue and epilogue of the same document. In addition 
to the more striking discoveries of this nature, the patient labor of 
explorers and scholars has been making constant additions to the 
common fund of knowledge. By systematic study and the applica- 
tion of better methods than were possible in former days, the large 
accessions of new matter have been worked over in connection with 
the accumulated material already at hand and most impor- 
tant results have been achieved. A large store of new facts 
has been elicited, much that was formerly obscure has been 
made clear, and the scope of historical inquiry in this direction has 
been greatly broadened. This is especially apparent in the greater 
attention that has been devoted, with marked success, to the elucida- 
tion of the mutual relations existing between the various peoples 
of the ancient world, and of the political and social influences exer- 

xxxvi! 



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xxxviii PREFACE 

cised by them upon each other. In this respect Oriental his- 
torical research is but applying the modern principle of historic 
generalization. 

In view of the rapid advance in every department of the sub- 
ject, it is evident that a book, like that of Professor Sayce, written 
nearly a quarter of a century ago, must now require very considera- 
ble revision and modification. Professor Sayce himself, whose 
active participation in the work of progress is too well known to 
require comment here, would undoubtedly be the first to admit this, 
as is evident from the tenor of his later works. At the same time it 
should be stated that the responsibility for all departures from the 
author's text rests with the present editor, who, while seeking to 
avoid needless changes, has endeavored to incorporate the more 
important results of modern research. It was at first hoped that 
such alterations as might be necessary could be specially indicated 
in such way that the reader might be enabled to distinguish between 
the original text of Professor Sayce's book and the editorial 
additions. This plan, however, proved to be so cumbrous as 
to be impracticable, and therefore had to be abandoned. It is 
only just to Professor Sayce that this fact should be specially 
emphasized. 

For the sake of greater completeness, it has been deemed advis- 
able to add chapters on the history of two very important Oriental 
peoples, the Arabs and the Jews, not treated in Professor Sayce's 
work. Of the former people, the sections in Gibbon's " Decline and 
Fall of the Roman Empire," dealing with the rise and progress of 
Islam, offer an account so brilliant in style, of such absorbing inter- 
est, and so generally trustworthy, that they have been reproduced 
here with but slight abridgment. To this chapter has been added a 
brief introduction on the history of Arabia before Islam, the material 
for which has been chiefly derived from Dr. Otto Weber's interest- 
ing sketch, " Arabien vor dent Islam " (Leipzig, 1902), and the same 
author's " Studien zur sudarabischen Altertumskunde " (1901). 
The chapters on the history of Israel, which is brought down to 
modern times, were prepared by the editor. For the earlier period, 
Guthe's excellent " Geschichte des Volkes Israel" (Freiburg, 1899) 
has been closely followed, with reference also to Budde's " Religion 
des Volkes Israel bis zur Verbannung" (Giesen, 1900), Wellhau- 
sen's " Israel and Judah " (third ed., London and Edinburgh, 
1891), and Nowack's " Lehrbuch der Hebrdischen Archdologie" 



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PREFACE xxxix 

(Freiburg and Leipzig, 1894). For the later period, after 135 a. d., 
Dr. S. Back's " Geschichte des jiidischen Volkes" (Frankfort, 
1894) has been mainly relied upon, though Lady Magnus's " Out- 
lines of Jewish History" (Philadelphia, 1890) and that inexhausti- 
ble store of information, the Jewish Encyclopaedia, have also 
contributed valuable information. 

Johns Hopkins University 



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INTRODUCTION 



FROM the earliest times of which any record exists Western 
Asia and the Nile Valley were seats of human culture, and 
in these countries civilization flourished for thousands of 
years before the nations of Europe had emerged from barbarism. 

In Western Asia the focus of culture lay in the land between 
the lower reaches of the Tigris and the Euphrates, just above the 
Persian Gulf, and, when first the light of history breaks through the 
darkness, this land, later known as Babylonia, was occupied by a 
people who have been termed the Sumerians. Their origin is ob- 
scure, but there are indications that they came from the mountainous 
country to the east, and their original home may have been in that 
great hive of peoples, the steppes of Central Asia. They possessed 
no mean skill in architecture, they were acquainted with the plastic 
arts, and they developed a remarkable system of writing which sur- 
vived, with certain modifications, for several millenniums. Indeed, 
it is not impossible that this writing invented by the old Sumerian 
inhabitants of Babylonia, and modified and developed by their 
Semitic successors, was the remote ancestor of our own alphabet. 
When contemporary records begin, these ancient people were being 
hard pressed by their Semitic neighbors. In fact, one of those great 
Semitic movements seems to have been in progress, of which history 
affords so many examples. Arabia, the primitive home of the Se- 
mitic race, is a fruitful mother of children, but can provide only a 
limited sustenance for her sons, and sooner or later a portion of 
them must fare forth to win new homes for themselves. For a 
time they might be checked by the barriers of strong neighboring 
states, but ultimately the growing tide of migration burst all obsta- 
cles and swept all before it. The great Mohammedan movement in 
the seventh century of our own era is a case in point. For a long 
time before the preaching of Mohammed bands of Arabs had been 
drifting toward the fertile provinces of Syria, Mesopotamia, and 
Persia, and finally the time came when, animated by a common pur- 
pose and inspired by religious zeal, the tribesmen of Arabia swept 

xli 



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xlu INTRODUCTION 

away the last vestige of the Persian and Byzantine Empires in Asia 
and Asia Minor, conquered Egypt, overran northern Africa, and 
penetrated Europe. This great movement was but the culmination 
of a long series of Semitic movements which may be seen in progress 
from the beginning of history. In the fourth millennium b. c. Semi- 
tic hordes overran Babylonia and the lands to the north, probably as 
far as the Taurus Mountains. Beginning about 2500 b. c. and 
extending over a considerable period of time, another great wave 
of migration swept over Western Asia, establishing- a new Semitic 
dynasty in Babylonia, overrunning northern Mesopotamia, and set- 
tling the Canaanite tribes in Palestine and Syria. The Phoenicians, 
who belong to an older layer of this movement, were pushed by 
later comers to the seacoast, and thence made their way into Africa 
and Europe, and planted their colonies along the shores of the 
Mediterranean. About the fifteenth century b. c. began the move- 
ment which established the Arameans in northern Mesopotamia 
and Syria, and overwhelmed the Hittite Empire in Western Asia. 
A little later the Chaldeans, probably a branch of the Aramean 
stock, pushed into Babylonia and founded a number of small inde- 
pendent states along the lower course of the Tigris. 

It was the first of these movements that overthrew the Sumeri- 
ans and brought Babylonia under Semitic dominion, but the more 
cultured Sumerians, though conquered in war, became the teachers 
of their ruder Semitic conquerors. From them the Semites learned 
the arts of peace and borrowed many religious conceptions. From 
them also they learned the art of writing, and adapted the Sumerian 
system by various modifications to the needs of their own language. 
In the early days Babylonia was broken up into a number of inde- 
pendent states, but the land was eventually united under a single 
monarchy, and King Sargon, whose reign is variously placed from 
3800 to 3000 b. a, extended his sway from the Persian Gulf to the 
Mediterranean coast. The empire founded by him fell to pieces, 
and Babylonia was again broken up into a number of petty states, 
the political supremacy shifting in the course of time from one to 
another. It was under Hammurabi that the ancient glories of the 
land were revived. This great king, who reigned about 2250 b. a, 
reunited the divided country into a single monarchy under ties so 
binding that they endured until the conquest of Cyrus, and extended 
his rule far beyond the land between the rivers. Assyria was one 
of his provinces, northern Mesopotamia, Syria, and Palestine were 



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INTRODUCTION xliii 

under his dominion, and though Babylonia was subsequently shorn 
of her western possessions, the influence of her culture was felt there 
until the latest times. 

The city of Babylon, founded in all probability by Sargon and 
reestablished as the capital of his dominions by Hammurabi, was 
for ages the great center of religion and culture, the holy city of 
Western Asia, holding a position like that of Mecca in Islam or of 
Papal Rome in its most glorious days. The death-blow to Babylon's 
political supremacy came from one of her own dependencies. From 
very early times Assyria was the vassal of Babylon, and as late as 
about 1400 b. c. Burnaburiash, King of Babylon, writes to Ameno- 
phis III., representing that the Assyrians are his subjects, and warns 
the Pharaoh not to receive an embassy which they propose to send 
to the Egyptian court. Whether they succeeded in obtaining from 
Egypt the recognition they desired is unknown, but not long after 
this Assyria threw off her allegiance to Babylon and became free. 
She had a long struggle to maintain her independence, but in the 
end she prevailed, and the cases were reversed. Babylonia, though 
she submitted sullenly, became the province of Assyria, and the 
latter came to the front as the chief power of the ancient world. 

In the meantime another important people had appeared upon 
the scene. Somewhere about the eighteenth or seventeenth century 
b. c. a swarm of invaders from Asia Minor crossed the Taurus 
Mountains and succeeded in establishing a strong kingdom in north- 
ern Mesopotamia and Syria. How far southward their rule ex- 
tended is uncertain, but it is probable that at one time Palestine was 
under their sway. This kingdom, called by the Egyptians Mitanni, 
was already on the decline about 1400 b. a, and at that time was 
hard pressed by fresh invaders of kindred race who had crossed the 
Taurus near the Mediterranean coast These newcomers were the 
Khetta of the Egyptian inscriptions, the Khatti of the cuneiform 
texts, the Hittites of the Bible. They dispossessed their relatives, 
the Mitannians, already weakened by the incursions of the nomadic 
Arameans, and occupied their former territory. For a long time 
the Hittites maintained themselves against the attacks of Egypt on 
the one hand and Assyria on the other, but finally they succumbed 
to the steady pressure of the Aramean immigration, and were de- 
prived of nearly all their territory. Numerous memorials of this 
interesting people are found throughout Asia Minor and the north- 
ern part of Western Asia. Little progress has as yet been made in 



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xliv INTRODUCTION 

the decipherment of their inscriptions, but many centers of Hittite 
culture remain unexplored, and it is to be hoped that ere long a 
sufficient key to the mystery may be discovered. 

While these events were passing in Western Asia, the Egyp- 
tians, shut in by the rocky mountain ranges that border the Nile 
Valley, and vulnerable only in the Delta, where proper defenses 
readily checked the incursions of the wild Beduin tribes of Asia, 
had developed that remarkable civilization whose products are still 
the wonder of the world. At the time their history begins the 
country was united under a single monarchy, though there are dis- 
tinct traces of an earlier political system. They had already 
developed their peculiar system of writing, the hieroglyphic, and 
their earliest works in architecture and in art are unsurpassed by 
those of any later period. For many centuries Egypt was devoted to 
a policy of internal development, and there was no attempt at for- 
eign expansion. Such wars as were undertaken seem designed 
to repel marauders from Egyptian territory, or to protect the 
valuable copper and malachite mines of the Sinaitic peninsula and 
the granite quarries near Assuan. 

The Nubian tribes to the south of Assuan seem to have been 
early brought into subjection, but this was an absolute necessity 
for the safety of the southern frontier and really involved no exten- 
sion of dominion. On the other hand, the policy of Chinese exclu- 
siveness often attributed to the Egyptians did not exist. As a rich 
agricultural and manufacturing country it is not to be supposed that 
Egypt abstained from trade relations with the rest of the world, and 
there is ample evidence of such commercial intercourse from the 
earliest times. Phoenician ships traded freely in the Egyptian ports, 
and caravans coming down the coast of Palestine and crossing the 
Delta brought in the products of the near and far East. Yet it is 
true that for a long time Egypt was content to develop her own re- 
sources and did not seek to extend her political influence beyond her 
own borders. This unaggressive policy received a rude shock 
through the invasion of the Hyksos, who, about the eighteenth cen- 
tury b. c, poured in through the Delta and made themselves masters 
of a large portion of the country. In the long war which preceded 
the final expulsion of the foreign intruders the Egyptians became a 
military nation and tasted the fruits of victory. The eyes of their 
monarchs were opened to the advantages to be derived from success- 
ful warfare, and soon a large part of Syria had become subject to 



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INTRODUCTION xlv 

Egypt, and the Egyptian arms were carried in triumph to the banks 
of the Euphrates. But the conquests of Egypt were never assimi- 
lated; her foreign wars were rather plundering raids on a grand 
scale, and the conquered districts were usually left to govern them- 
selves in their own way, provided they acknowledged Egyptian 
suzerainty and regularly paid their annual tribute. Soon, moreover, 
the military spirit was on the wane, and dissensions at home weak- 
ened the influence of Egypt abroad. During the civil war, resulting 
from the attempt of Amenophis IV. to impose his peculiar religious 
ideas upon his people, Egypt had no leisure to devote to foreign 
affairs, her loosely united Asiatic provinces fell away, and soon she 
could barely control the districts adjoining her own frontier. In 
the meantime the Hittites had made their appearance in Western 
Asia, and now occupied the territory of their relatives and predeces- 
sors, the Mitannians. Reinforced by fresh accessions, they pushed 
their way farther to the south and, taking advantage of Egypt's 
weakness, made themselves masters of Syria. Egypt subsequently 
made some spasmodic efforts to regain her lost Asiatic provinces, 
but was unable to break the Hittite power, and, about the middle of 
the thirteenth century b. c, Ramses II., after a fruitless contest, 
concluded a treaty of alliance upon equal terms with the Hittite 
ruler. 

With the rise of the Assyrian power the history of the East 
enters upon a new phase. The neighbors of Assyria to the east and 
north were one by one subdued, and this aggressive power was 
steadily extending her dominions to the west. As early as I ioo b. c. 
Tiglath Pileser reached the Mediterranean, and, though at this time 
no permanent hold was secured in this quarter, later Assyrian mon- 
archs made frequent attempts to follow in the path marked out by 
their predecessor. In the eighth century b. c. Babylonia, after cen- 
turies of warfare, was finally subjugated, and at the same time the 
long-cherished policy of western expansion was pushed with vigor. 
Ere long Assyria included in her dominions Syria and the Phoeni- 
cian coast, and even received tribute from the isles of the Mediter- 
ranean. The Israelite kingdom of Samaria was destroyed by 
Shalmaneser IV. and Sargon in 722. Judah became tributary, and 
Assyria was at the gates of Egypt The latter country, alarmed 
for her own safety, neglected no opportunity to foment discontent 
against Assyria in the Palestinian states and to encourage their 
aspirations for independence, hoping thus to establish a bulwark 



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xlvi INTRODUCTION 

against her formidable rival. But her efforts were vain. Sennach- 
erib, it is true, was compelled to retire from the Egyptian frontier 
and was detained in the East by a succession of Babylonian revolts, 
until he finally fell a victim to assassination in the year 68 1 ; but his 
son and successor, Esarhaddon, took up his father's work and car- 
ried it through successfully. He easily made himself master of the 
west, invaded Egypt, and reduced it to the condition of an Assyrian 
province. Assyria had now reached the pinnacle of her glory, and 
maintained her proud position for a time. Then came the great 
civil war between the sons of Esarhaddon and, though it ended in 
favor of the established government, the Assyrian Empire was 
shaken to its foundations. In 626 Babylon threw off the yoke, and 
twenty years later, in 606 b. c, her Median allies destroyed 
Nineveh and swept away the last trace of Assyrian dominion. 
Babylon fell heir to the western provinces, and, especially under the 
reign of Nebuchadrezzar, resumed her old position as head of the 
Semitic Empire of Western Asia. But her period of dominion was 
brief. In 538 b. c, less than a century after the fall of Nineveh, 
Babylon was taken by Cyrus, and Babylonia became a province of 
the Persian Empire. The supremacy of Western Asia had passed 
from the Semite to the Aryan, and many centuries were to elapse 
before it reverted to the kindred of its former possessors. 



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CONTENTS 



PAGI 

Introduction — Henry Cabot Lodge xi 



HISTORY OF EGYPT 

CHAPTER 

I. The Land and the People 3 

II. Chronology and History 10 

III. Religion and Mythology 41 

IV. Arts and General Culture 50 

BABYLONIA AND ASSYRIA 

I. Geography and Ethnology 63 

II. Chronology and History 69 

III. Religion and Mythology 96 

IV. Arts and General Culture 102 

THE PHOENICIANS 

I. Ethnology and History 117 

II. Religion and Mythology 127 

III. Arts and General Culture 132 

HISTORY OF LYDIA 

I. Geography and History 139 

II. Religion and Culture 147 

HISTORY OF PERSIA 

I. Ethnology and History 157 

II. Religion and Culture 170 

xlvii 



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dviii CONTENTS 

HISTORY OF ARABIA 

CHAPTER PAGE 

I. Early History of the Arabian Peninsula • • . 183 

II. Arabia before the Coming of Mohammed . . . 189 

HI. Mohammed, the Prophet of Islam .... 205 

IV. The Union of Arabia under Mohammed . . . 222 

V. Mohammed's Successors and the Spread of Islam . 242 

VI. The Moslem Conquest of Persia and Syria . . 259 

VII. The Saracens in Egypt and Africa .... 290 

VIII. The Saracens in Europe 310 

IX. Fall of the Moslem Empire 337 



HISTORY OF ISRAEL 

I. The Kingdom of Israel 373 

II. The Kingdom of Judah 395 

III. A Scattered Nation 4*4 

Bibliography 429 

Index 443 



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LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

The Pharaoh Kheops and his Wife Visiting the 
Architect of the Great Pyramid at Memphis 
(Photogravure) Frontispiece 

FACING PACT 

Arrival of a Semitic Horde (Colored) 18 

The Unwrapped Mummy and Statue of the Pharaoh 

Ramses II 26 

The Persian Army Capturing Pelusium .... 32 

Massacre of the Mamelukes 38 

Procession of the Sacred Bull Apis 42 

Court Scene during the Trial of the Son of Ramses III. 54 

The Rosetta Stone 56 

The Oldest Babylonian Cylinders 66 

Early Babylonian Art 76 

Ashur-bani-pal's Battle against Teumman of Elam . . 90 
A Portion of the Text of the Code of Hammurabi, King 

of Babylon 112 

Driving the Living Victims into the Fiery Furnace of 

Baal-Moloch 126 

Tomyris Laves the Head of Cyrus the Great in Blood . 162 
Xerxes Watches the Progress of the Battle of Salamis 166 

The Diversions of a Persian King 178 

Mohammed, Preaching the Unity of God, Enters Mecca 230 
The Conquerors of Damascus Laying the Spoils of their 

Victory at Abyla before the Invincible Khalid . . 278 
Caravan of Pilgrims on the Road to Mecca . . . 340 
The Sword of Justice of the Commander of the Faith- 
ful 350 

xlix 



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1 LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

FACING PAGE 

Pharaoh's Hosts Pursuing the Fleeing Jews across the 

Arm of the Red Sea 374 

At the Court of Solomon 388 

The Feast of Nabonidus 400 



TEXT MAPS 

PAGE 

Ancient Egypt 7 

Babylonia and Assyria, 1250 b. c. 65 

Assyrian Ascendency in Asia, circa 660 b. c. . . .86 
Map of the Eastern Mediterranean, Showing Phcenicia . 118 

Lydia in 560 b. c 145 

Dismemberment of the Assyrian Empire, circa 585 b. c. .159 
The Arabian Empire under the Last of the Omayyads 326 
Route of the Israelites from Egypt to Canaan . . 375 
Map showing the Tribes of Israel and the Kingdoms of 
Judah and Israel , 396 



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HISTORY OF EGYPT 



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HISTORY OF EGYPT 

Chapter I 

THE LAND AND THE PEOPLE 

EGYPT, historically the oldest of countries, is geologically 
the youngest. It consists entirely of the soil deposited in 
comparatively recent times by the Nile. The triangle of 
the Delta marks the site of the ancient mouth of the river, and 
though the land has encroached upon the sea but slightly since the 
age of the Pharaohs, its height has year by year been slowly in- 
creasing. Some of the mouths of the river which were navigable 
streams in classical times have now ceased to be so ; the Serbonian 
Lake has in part become dry land, while desolate marshes are now 
cultivated fields. To the south of the Delta — with the exception 
of the Fayum, which owes its fertility to the canal called Bahr 
Yusuf, the former feeder of Lake Moeris — Egypt is confined to the 
narrow strip of mud which lines both sides of the river, and is 
bounded by low hills of limestone or the shifting sands of the 
desert. The Nile now flows for 1600 miles without receiving a 
single tributary; the heated deserts on either bank absorb all the 
moisture of the air, and almost wholly prevent a rainfall, and it is 
consequently only where the waters of the river extend during the 
annual inundation, or where they can be dispersed by artificial 
irrigation, that cultivation and settled life are possible. This, how- 
ever, was not always the case. The channels or rivers and water- 
courses that once fell into the Nile can still be traced on both sides 
of it, from the Delta to the Second Cataract ; and the petrified for- 
ests that are found in the desert, one about five miles westward 
of the pyramids of Gizeh, and two others, an hour and a half and 
four hours to the east of Cairo, show that the desert was not 
always the barren waste that it now is. The wadis, or valleys, and 
cliffs are water-worn, and covered with boulders and pebbles, 
which bear witness to the former existence of mountain torrents 
and a considerable amount of rain; and the discovery of palaeo- 
lithic implements near the Little Petrified Forest, and in the breccia 



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4 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

of Kurnah, at Thebes, as well as other geological indications, make 
it clear that the geographical and climatic changes the country has 
undergone have taken place since it was first inhabited by man. 

It was long maintained that no traces of a prehistoric age 
existed in Egypt. Arcelin and the Vicomte de Murard, however, 
in 1 868- 1 869, discovered numerous relics of the neolithic age at 
Gizeh, El Kab, and the Biban-el-Muluk, or Valley of the Kings, 
at Thebes; and Hamy and Lenormant in 1869 collected further 
specimens of the same early epoch. Since 1891 the excavations 
of Petrie, De Morgan, Amelineau, and others have brought to 
light prehistoric cemeteries in many parts of Egypt, from Cairo 
to the Wadi Haifa, but especially in the neighborhood of Na- 
gada and Abydos, with a rich store of pottery, stone imple- 
ments, ornaments, and other memorials of the primitive race whose 
burial places were thus uncovered. Thanks to these discoveries, 
there are now abundant traces of the existence of man in the Nile 
Valley far back into the neolithic, perhaps even as early as the 
palaeolithic, period. 

It is impossible to calculate the rate at which the deposit of 
Nile mud is taking place, since the amount deposited varies from 
year to year, and the soil left by the inundation of one year may be 
entirely carried away by the next. Shafts were sunk in it in ninety- 
six different places at Memphis by Hekekyan Bey in 185 1- 1854, and 
in one of them, near the colossal statue of Ramses II., a fragment 
of pottery was found at a depth of thirty-nine feet under strata of 
soil which had been covered by sand from the desert. As the 
statue, which was erected in the fourteenth century b. c, is now 
ten feet below the surface, it would seem that the deposits have 
been increasing at the rate of 3.5 inches in each century, and that 
consequently the fragment of pottery is 13,530 years old. Such 
calculations, however, are exceedingly precarious, and at Heliopo- 
lis the alluvial soil has accumulated to a height of between five 
and six feet around the base of the obelisk erected by Usertesen I. 
(about 1976 b. c). All we can say is, that the Delta had no exist- 
ence when the Nile was still fed by a number of tributaries and 
flowed at a much higher level than it does at present. 

In some places the river has left behind it evidence of its 
former level. Thus, at Abu-Simbel a line of water-worn caves on 
either bank, just above the heads of the sitting figures of the great 
TOck-cut temple, proves the depth of the channel it has scooped out 



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EGYPT 5 

for itself; while we can actually determine the date at which the 
First Cataract was removed from Gebel Silsileh, or Silsilis, to 
Assuan (Syene), and the highest rise of the river in Ethiopia was 
27 feet 3 inches above its rise at the present day. Certain inscrip- 
tions of the reign of Amen-em-hat III. of the twelfth dynasty, and 
of Sebek-hotep I. of the thirteenth dynasty, found at Semneh 
(about thirty miles south of the Second Cataract), show that this 
was the level to which the inundation then reached, and that the 
plains of Ethiopia, which are now far above the fertilizing reach of 
the river, were then annually inundated. Before the accession of 
the eighteenth dynasty, however, the catastrophe had happened; 
the Nile forsook its old channel, still very visible, to the southeast 
of Assuan, the First Cataract was formed, and the highest level 
of the inundation above it was that attained at present. 

The earliest traces of man in Egypt since the country as- 
sumed its modern features are to be found in the stone implements 
and the primitive graves already mentioned. The race that has 
left these memorials of its existence evidently possessed a rudi- 
mentary culture and some crude notions of art, but they appear 
to have been of an unwarlike disposition. There is evidence, to 
the archaeological and linguistic, to show that at a remote period 
they were conquered by Semitic invaders from Asia, who overran 
the Nile Valley, materially influencing the language of the indige- 
nous population and contributing important elements to the civili- 
zation of the country. Egyptian culture is, therefore, partly of 
African, partly of Asiatic origin, and the blending must have taken 
place long before the time of the first historical dynasties, since the 
perfection of the most ancient monuments implies a very prolonged 
period of previous development. 

The ancient Egyptians belonged to the Hamitic branch of the 
Caucasian race, their nearest relatives being the Berbers of North- 
ern Africa, and the Bisharis, Gallas, and Somalis of eastern 
Africa. Up to the last they show little resemblance to the negro 
races. Their early Semitic conquerors, though superior in arms 
and in military skill, were probably numerically inferior to the 
indigenous population, in which they were ultimately absorbed 
without leaving any marked impress upon the racial type. In later 
times various foreign elements were grafted upon the native stock. 
The Pharaohs of the twelfth dynasty appear to have had a strain 
of Nubian blood. The Hyksos dominion seems to have had but 



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6 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

little effect upon the population, but under the New Empire (1600- 
1100 b. c.) there was a fresh infusion of Semitic blood through 
the numerous captives brought into Egypt from the Asiatic wars, 
and another Semitic element is represented by the Phoenicians of 
the Delta, who have left descendants in the neighborhood of Lake 
Menzaleh. The Libyans of the twenty-second and twenty-sixth 
dynasties and the Ethiopians of the twenty-fifth dynasty made 
some contributions to the population, and under the Ptolemies the 
Delta and the Fayum were largely peopled by Greeks. The 
Mohammedan invasion, in the seventh century, a. p., brought 
swarms of Arabs into the country, and later the Tatar Turks 
added a new element. But in spite of all this the ancient racial 
type has been comparatively little changed, and the Egyptian 
fellah of the present day still presents the essential characteristics 
of his forefathers in the early days of Egyptian history. 

The language of the ancient Egyptians gives evidence in ac- 
cord with that of archaeology and ethnology in regard to the origin 
of the people. It is related on the one hand to the modern Libyan, 
Haussa, and Galla dialects, while on the other hand its Semitic 
affinity is entirely clear. The latter element is deeply rooted in the 
organic structure of the language, and it can hardly be doubted that 
it was due to the Asiatic invaders who conquered the land in the 
predynastic period. 

Egypt naturally falls into two divisions : the Delta, formed by 
the mouths of the Nile, in the north ; and the land fertilized by the 
Nile, between the Delta and the First Cataract, in the south. Be- 
low Syene and the First Cataract we are in Nubia. At the apex 
of the triangle formed by the Delta stood Memphis, which owed 
its name — Men-nofer, " good abode " — and its rise to importance 
to Pepi I. of the sixth dynasty. Older than Memphis was Tini or 
This, the birthplace of Menes, and in after times a mere suburb of 
the younger Abydos. Here was the tomb of Osiris, in the neigh- 
borhood of which every Egyptian of sufficient wealth and dignity 
desired to be buried. The accumulated graves formed the huge 
mound now known as the Kom-es-Sultan. About one hundred 
miles southward of This and Abydos stood Thebes, which under 
the Middle Empire became the metropolis of Egypt, and attained 
its chief glory under the kings of the eighteenth and nineteenth 
dynasties. It is doubtful whether even a village stood on the spot 
in the time of the Old Empire ; indeed, it is possible that the popu- 



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EGYPT 7 

lation of the district at that early epoch was still mainly Nubian. 
Subsequently the town extended from the east to the west bank, 
where the temple and palace of Ramses III. (now Medinet Abu), 
the Memnonium or Ramesseum, — perhaps the tomb of Ramses ll., 
— and the temples built by Seti I. at Kurnah, by Queen Hatasu at 
Deir-el-Bahri, and by Amenophis III. farther south, rose at the 
foot of the vast necropolis of the city. In the classical era Thebes 




gave its name to the southern half of Egypt. In the extreme south, 
on the Egyptian side of the First Cataract, was Suan, or Syene, 
now Assuan, opposite to the island of Elephantine, called Ab, 
" the elephant " isle, by the Egyptians, from which came the sixth 
dynasty. Two small islands southward of Elephantine acquired 
the reputation of sanctity at least as early as the twelfth and 
thirteenth dynasties, and one of them, Senem, now Bigeh-Konosso, 



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8 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

in the fourth and third centuries b. c, communicated its sanctity to 
the neighboring island of Philae. Philae soon became the religious 
center of Egypt, the reputed tomb of Osiris having been trans- 
ferred to it after the decay of Abydos. The granite cliffs and 
boulders between Philae and Syene furnished the material for the 
obelisks, the sphinxes, the colossi, and the other great monuments 
of the Egyptian monarchs; and the early date at which they were 
worked may be gathered from the fact that the so-called granite 
temple, close to the Sphinx of Gizeh, whose building may have 
preceded the reign of Menes, is constructed of blocks which must 
have been brought from Assuan. 

Southward of the First Cataract was Nubia, and above that 
again Kush or Ethiopia. Nubia formed part of the kingdom of 
the sixth dynasty, while Usertesen III., of the twelfth dynasty, 
fixed the boundaries of the empire at Semneh and Kummeh; and 
an Egyptian officer, entitled " the Prince of Kush," first named in 
inscriptions of Thothmes L, whose capital was as far south as 
Napata, governed the country up to the age of the twenty-first 
dynasty. The most perfect remains of Pharaonic fortifications 
now existing are the fortresses of sun-dried brick erected by 
Thothmes III. at Kobban, opposite Dakkeh, and on both sides of 
the river at Semneh, thirty-five miles south of the Second Cataract. 

The division of Egypt into Upper and Lower dates from the 
age preceding Menes, the king who, according to Egyptian tradi- 
tion, united the two kingdoms in 3300 b. c. Lower Egypt, called 
To Meh or To Mera — "the northern country "—extended from 
the Mediterranean to Beni-Suef, and consequently included the 
marshes of the Delta, occupied in the time of the Old Empire by 
the long-forgotten hippopotamus, crocodile, and papyrus. It was 
defended from the attacks of the Amu or Semitic tribes of West- 
ern Asia by a line of fortresses stretching from Migdol in the 
north to the neighborhood of Suez in the south, and originally 
established by the founders of the eighteenth dynasty. The main 
channels through which the Nile flowed into the sea were seven — 
the Pelusiac, Tanitic, Mendesian, Bukolic or Phatnitic, Sebennytic, 
Bolbitinic, and Kanopic — of which two only are now navigable. 
The Kanopic branch, ten miles from the mouth of which Alex- 
andria was founded under the auspices of Alexander the Great, is 
now represented by a marshy inlet near Abukir. In the eastern 
part of the Delta lay the land of Goshen, with its cities of Tanis 



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EGYPT 9 

or Zoan, Bubastis, Pharbaethus, Pithom, and On or Heliopolis 
^near Cairo), not far from which was the site now known as the 
Tel-el- Yehudiyeh, where the Jewish priest Onias, with the aid of 
Ptolemy Philometor, raised the rival temple to that of Jerusalem. 
From Tanis and Daphnae to Pelusium the fortified highroad led 
from Egypt to Palestine, along the edge of the Mediterranean. 
Upper Egypt, extending from Beni-Suef to Assuan, was known 
as To Kema, or To Res, — " the southern country," — which, with 
the article pa prefixed, is the original of the Hebrew and Greek 
Pathros. Like Lower Egypt, it was divided into nomes or dis- 
tricts, — hesop in Egyptian, — supposed to represent the numerous 
small states of the prehistoric age out of which the historic Egypt 
was constituted. The government of the nome was modeled upon 
that of the state, and the civil and military administration was in 
the hands of a governor or nomarch. In the older period the 
nomarchs were great feudal nobles, who often made themselves 
practically independent of the central authority ; in the time of the 
New Empire, when the old nobility had been swept away, they were 
merely officers of the crown, though they still retained the ancient 
title. Under the Ptolemies these nomarchs were usually termed 
strategoi, presided over by an epistrategos ; the religious affairs of 
the province being managed by the high priests of the principal tem- 
ples assisted by a numerous staff of prophets, scribes, astrologers, 
and sacristans. At the same time the nome was further subdivided 
into a certain number of toparchies, composed of groups of towns 
and villages. 

The number of nomes varied at different periods. Thus the 
hieroglyphic list at Edfu mentions thirty-nine, nineteen being in 
Lower Egypt; while Diodorus and Strabo reckon thirty-six. In 
general, however, there were about forty nomes, twenty in Upper 
and twenty in Lower Egypt. 



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Chapter II 

CHRONOLOGY AND HISTORY 

EGYPTIAN chronology is full of difficulties, and until quite 
recently was founded largely upon conjecture so far at least 
as the period preceding the seventh century b. c. is con- 
cerned. But with the appearance of Eduard Meyer's invaluable 
" Aegyptische Chronologie" (Berlin, 1904), the long existing 
chaos has at length been reduced to order and the subject now 
stands upon a fairly secure basis. Absolute accuracy will doubt- 
less never be attained, but it can hardly be doubted that the results 
of Meyer's investigation give a reasonably close approximation to 
the truth. Our authorities are partly classical, partly monumental. 
The most important of the former is Manetho, a priest of 
Sebennytos, who was intrusted by Ptolemy Philadelphus, 284-246 
B. c, with the task of translating into Greek the historical works 
contained in the Egyptian temples. Unfortunately Manetho's 
work is lost, and we have to depend for our knowledge of it upon 
the meager and sometimes contradictory extracts made by Josephus, 
Eusebius, Julius Africanus, 1 and George Syncellus. 1 

Eusebius and Africanus profess to give us Manetho's list of 
the Egyptian dynasties, with the length of time each lasted, and 
in many cases the names and regnal years of the monarchs of 
whom they were composed. The names and numbers, however, 
do not always correspond, nor does even the duration of certain 
dynasties agree with the totals of the reigns comprised in them, 
when added together. But what is most serious is that the names 
of the kings, and the length of time they are said to have reigned, 
are not infrequently irreconcilable with the statements of the monu- 
ments. Sometimes, too, reigns for which we have monumental 
evidence are omitted altogether. It is plain, therefore, that Mane- 

1 Bishop of Emmaus (Nikopolis) at the beginning of the third century. 
Only fragments of his work on Chronology in five books have been preserved. 
(See Routh, " Reliquia Sacra," ii.) 

2 i. e. the " cell-companion " of the Patriarch of Constantinople, 800 a. d. His 
work was continued from 285 down to 813 by Theophanes the Isaurian. 

10 



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EGYPT 11 

tho's list has come to us in a very corrupt condition, and that the 
numbers contained in it must be received with extreme caution. 
Moreover, the Christian writers who have handed them down were 
intent on reconciling the chronology of the Egyptian historian with 
that of the Old Testament, and were consequently likely to curtail 
it as much as possible. Nevertheless, in the want of other authori- 
ties, all attempts to restore Egyptian chronology must be based upon 
this imperfect reproduction of Manetho, to whom, it may be ob- 
served, the distribution of the kings into dynasties is due. That 
Manetho himself faithfully reported the evidence of the monuments 
— or rather, perhaps, of the native histories compiled from them — 
has been abundantly proved by the decipherment of the in- 
scriptions. 

His statements, notwithstanding the imperfect state in which 
they have reached us, are in the main correct. The monumental 
names can generally be detected under their Greek disguises, the 
scheme of dynasties has received full confirmation, and the chro- 
nology of the Sebennytic priest seems indeed to err on the side of 
defect rather than of excess. Startled by the long chronology 
Manetho's list necessitates, Egyptian scholars formerly imagined 
that several of the dynasties were contemporaneous. The researches 
of Mariette, however, have shown that this is not the case. Thus 
the theory which made the fifth dynasty reign at Elephantine, while 
the sixth was reigning at Memphis, has been overthrown by the dis- 
covery of monuments belonging to the two dynasties in both places ; 
and the discovery of the colossi of the thirteenth Theban dynasty 
at San or Tanis, near Xois, upsets the scheme according to which 
this dynasty was contemporaneous with the Xoites of the four- 
teenth. 

In fact, as Mariette says, if the lists of Manetho "contain 
collateral dynasties, we should find in them, before or after the 
twenty-first, the dynasty of high-priests which (as we learn from 
the monuments) reigned at Thebes, while the twenty-first occupied 
Tanis; in the same way we should have to reckon before or after 
the twenty-third the seven or eight independent kings who were 
contemporary with it, and who ought, if Manetho had not disre- 
garded them, to have added so many successive royal families to the 
list of the Egyptian priest; similarly the 'Dodecarchy* would 
count, at least, as one dynasty coming between the twenty-fifth and 
the twenty-sixth; and finally, the Theban princes, the rivals of the 



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1« ANCIENT EMPIRES 

Shepherds, would take their place before or after the seventeenth." 3 
There were several periods in the history of Egypt, it is true, when 
more than one line of kings was ruling in the country; but it is 
clear that either Manetho or his epitomizers struck out all except 
the one line which was considered legitimate, and so drew up a 
catalogue of successive dynasties. 

It is probable, however, that gaps occur between some of the 
* k latter. If at any period there was no dynasty which the Egyptian 
priests considered legitimate, it would necessarily be passed over in 
the annals of Manetho. Indeed, of one such period we have 
actual proof. No mention is made by Manetho of the so-called 
dodecarchy, when, for more than twenty years, Egypt was under 
the dominion of Assyria. The twenty-sixth dynasty is made to 
follow immediately upon the twenty-fifth. And there is no reason 
to think that this is an isolated case. 

In commemorating the earlier monarchs of the country the 
priests of the various temples compiled selected lists of them. 
Thus at Abydos Seti I. is represented as honoring the spirits 
of sixty-five of his predecessors, beginning with Menes and end- 
ing with the last king of the twelfth dynasty, the kings of the 
eighteenth dynasty, who are made to follow immediately, being 
reckoned as twelve. At Karnak, again, Thothmes III. is pic- 
tured making offerings to the images of sixty-one of his predeces- 
sors; while a second list of kings, discovered at Abydos, in the 
temple of Ramses II., repeats the list given by Seti, with a few 
omissions. At Sakkarah, too, in the tomb of a priest named 
Tunari, who flourished under Ramses II., we see the dead man 
admitted to eternal life in the presence of fifty-eight of the earlier 
kings of Egypt. The principles upon which these selected lists 
were drawn up are still unknown to us. Certain prominent kings, 
such as Menes, the founder of the empire, or Kheops, the builder 
of the great pyramid, occur in them all, but in other parts of the 
lists the names chosen are different. Possibly the priests selected 
those monarchs who were reputed to have been benefactors to the 
particular shrines in which the lists are found; or perhaps the 
deceased is brought into spiritual relation with those who in some 
special way were supposed to have been his ancestors. At all 
events, it is one of these selected temple lists that is embodied in 
the catalogue of thirty-eight " Theban " kings extracted from the 
Greek mathematician Eratosthenes (276-194 b. c.) by Christian 
s Aperqu de VHistoire ancUnne (Tfegypte" p. 67. 



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EGYPT 18 

writers. The introductory sentence, which calls Menes a Theban, 
shows plainly the source from which it was derived. 4 

A sketch of Egyptian history is given by Diodorus, who prob- 
ably derived it from Ephorus. The sketch is on the whole fairly 
accurate, though the blunder of Herodotos is repeated, which placed 
Kheops, Khephren, and Mykerinos 2,000 years too late. Herodo- 
tos derived his information as to earlier Egyptian history from 
the inventive ignorance of half-caste ciceroni, so that we need not 
wonder at its utter incompatibility with the truth. In saying, 
however, that the 341 generations of kings who preceded Sethos 
extended over 11,340 years, the Greek historian has made a grat- 
uitous mistake of his own ; not only is his arithmetic at fault, but 
he has confounded together reigns and generations. 

Some of the sources from which Manetho composed his his- 
tory have been recovered and are now at our disposal. What they 
were we may gather from the famous Turin Papyrus, written in the 
time of Ramses II., and found probably in a tomb at Thebes. The 
carelessness of the natives who discovered it, and of the Europeans 
who brought it home, has unfortunately shivered it into more than 
160 fragments so minute that all attempts to piece them together 
and restore the text have been unsuccessful. In its original condi- 
tion the papyrus contained a list of the kings of Egypt from the 
mythical period to the sixteenth dynasty, with the exact duration 
of each reign in years, months, and days. The fragmentary Stone 
of Palermo, the inscription upon which was first published some 
ten years ago, furnishes similar data in regard to the Old Empire. 
In addition to these documents and the lists of rulers already men- 
tioned, modern investigation has brought to light a few fixed dates 
from other sources, and astronomy has also lent valuable aid. All 
these details have been carefully utilized in Meyer's work, which 
fully represents all that is now attainable in the field of Egyptian 
chronology. 5 

Like the histories of all other great nations, this history begins 
with its mythical age. The first dynasty of prehistoric Egypt was 
believed to have consisted of the gods. Each temple had its own 
peculiar list of these divine monarchs, in which its presiding deity 
took the first place. Thus at Memphis the dynasty of gods was 

4 The list of Eratosthenes, in which an attempt is made to give the meaning 
of the royal names, was edited by Apollodoros of Athens (about 140 B. a). 

5 Meyer, " Aegyptiscke Chronologic" (Berlin, 1904). 



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14 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

composed as follows: (i) Ptah or Hephaestos, "the father of 
the gods"; (2) Ra, the Sun-god, his son; (3) Shu (Agatho- 
daemon), the Air-god, his son; (4) Seb, the earth, his son; 

(5) Osiris, his son; (6) Set (Typhon), the son of Seb; (7) 
Horos, the son of Osiris. At Thebes, on the other hand, the order 
was: (1) Amon-Ra, "the king of the gods"; (2) Mont, his son; 
(3) Shu, the son of Ra; (4) Seb, his son; (5) Osiris, his son; 

(6) Horos, his son; Set, the evil principle, not being reckoned 
among the legitimate rulers. Next to these royal gods came the 
Shemsu-Hor, or " successors of Horos," divided by Manetho into 
the two dynasties of demi-gods and Manes; among the latter, ac- 
cording to the Turin papyrus, being the sacred animals, the Apis 
of Memphis and the Mnevis of On. The reign of the Manes closed 
the mythical age of Egypt. They were followed by Menes of 
This, the founder of the united monarchy and the leader of the 
historical dynasties. 

Modern research, however, has caught glimpses of the epoch 
which preceded the age of Menes, and was relegated by the Egyp- 
tian scribes to the reigns of the mysterious Shemsu-Hor. The 
country of the Nile seems at first to have been divided into a num- 
ber of small principalities, represented in later times by the nomes, 
and these petty states gradually coalesced into two independent 
kingdoms, the South or Upper Egypt, and the North or Lower 
Egypt. Inscriptions bearing the names of some of the monarchs 
who ruled these kingdoms have been found in recent years. Later 
the North and the South were united into a single monarchy, and 
the titles of the Egyptian Pharaohs, as well as the dual organiza- 
tion of the government, bore witness to the fact down to the last 
days of Egypt's independence. At what time the union occurred 
is not altogether certain, but it was probably under the reign of 
Menes, whom a steadfast tradition regards as the first king of 
all Egypt. 

Whoever has seen the rich plain in which the city of This once 
stood will easily understand how it was that the founder of the 
united monarchy came from there. The plain is at once one of 
the largest and most fertile of those in the valley of the Nile, while 
it is protected from attack on three sides by the Libyan hills, and on 
the fourth side by the river. Everything was in favor of the 
progress of its inhabitants in wealth and power. At any rate, it 
was from here, from the precincts of the tomb of Osiris himself, 



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EGYPT 15 

that Menes or Mena, made his way northward, passing on his road 
the ancient kingdoms of Ni-ent-Bak (Antaeopolis) and Sesunnu 
(Hermopolis), where Horus had defeated and slain his enemy 
Set, with the aid of Thoth. He is said to have founded Memphis 
and to have established the city as his capital, but the statement 
rests upon very doubtful authority. 

The date to which this event was assigned by Manetho has, 
for reasons already given, been variously computed. Boeckh makes 
it 5702 b. c, Unger 5613, Mariette 5004, Brugsch 4455, Lauth 
4157, Pessl 3917, Lepsius 3892, and Bunsen 3623. 

This great divergence in the computations of eminent scholars 
emphasizes the conjectural basis upon which the chronology of the 
older period of Egyptian history formerly stood. It may now be 
confidently asserted, as a result of Meyer's researches, that the 
accession of Menes must be placed between 3400 and 3200 b. c, or, 
taking the mean between these two extremes, not far from 3300 
B. c. The existing data do not permit a closer approximation. 

Menes, we are told, undertook a campaign against the Libyans, 
and after a reign of sixty-two years was eaten by a crocodile (or 
hippopotamus), a legend which may have originated in the be- 
lief that Set, the enemy of order and government, revenged 
himself upon the successor of the royal Osiris. Teta, who fol- 
lowed him, was said to have written treatises upon medicine 
and anatomy, and the medical papyrus of Ebers contains a chap- 
ter which was supposed to have been " discovered " in his 
reign, while the sixty-fourth chapter of the Book of the Dead 
was ascribed to the same date. The second king of the second 
dynasty, Kakau or Kaiekhos, established or more probably regulated 
the worship of the bulls Apis and Mnevis, and the goat of Mendes. 
After him Bainuter or Binothris is said by Manetho to have deter- 
mined that women as well as men might henceforward inherit the 
throne. 

With the death of the last king of the second dynasty the line 
of Menes seems to have come to an end. It had apparently suc- 
ceeded in welding the whole country together, and suppressing those 
collateral princes whose names are occasionally met with on the 
monuments. Of the third dynasty little is known beyond the 
names of the monarchs who composed it. Its most important 
king was Zoser, who built the so-called step pyramid of Sakkarah. 
The fourth dynasty was Memphite. It was founded by Snefru or 



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16 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

Sephuris (2840 b. a), whose inscriptions in the Wady Magharah 
tell us that the turquoise mines of Sinai were worked for his benefit, 
and guarded by Egyptian soldiers. The lofty pyramid of Meidum 
is his tomb, close to which are the sepulchers of his princes and 
officials, still brilliant with colored mosaic work of pictures and 
hieroglyphics. 

It is the era of the fourth dynasty that is emphatically the 
building era. The pyramid-tombs of Khufu (Kheops), Khafra 
(Khephren), and Men-ka-ra (Mykerinos or Menkheres), in the 
necropolis of Memphis, still excite the astonishment of mankind by 
their size and solidity. " The great pyramid " of Gizeh, with its 
two companions, towers like a mountain above the sandy plain, and 
neither the ruin of five thousand years nor the builders of Cairo 
have been able to destroy them. Khufu and Khafra, whose im- 
piety was one of the " traveler's tales " told to Herodotos by his 
ignorant guides, were separated from each other by the reign of 
Tat-ef-Ra or Ra-tatf, of whom little is known. The statue of 
Khafra, of hard diorite, found by Mariette, and preserved in the 
Museum of Bulak, is one of the most beautiful and realistic speci- 
mens of Egyptian art, characteristic of its early phase, and illustrat- 
ing the features of the Egyptians of the Old Empire. Men-ka-ra 
was followed by Shepses-ka-f, the Asykhis of Herodotos, who built 
the pyramid of brick, and was, according to Diodorus, one of the 
five great lawgivers of Egypt. After a few more reigns, the fifth 
dynasty succeeds to the fourth, and we pass to the age of Ti, whose 
tomb at Sakkarah is among the choicest of Egyptian monuments. 
Its walls of white stone are covered with delicate sculptures, bril- 
liantly colored, and resembling the most exquisite embroidery on 
stone. They trace for us the scenes of Ti's life : here he is superin- 
tending his laborers in the field; here he is watching a party of 
carpenters or shipbuilders ; here, again, he is hunting hippopotami 
among the papyri of the Delta, while a kingfisher hard-by is seek- 
ing, with loud cries and outstretched wings, to drive a crocodile 
from her young. The kings of the fifth dynasty introduced the 
fashion of adding a second cartouche, with the name of honor, to 
that which contains their names as individuals. One of them, Tat- 
ka-ra-Assa, who has left us monuments among the mines of Sinai, 
was the prince under whom the Papyrus Prisse was written by 
" the governor Ptah-hotep." This, the most ancient book in the 
world, is a treatise on practical philosophy, very like the Book of 



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EGYPT 17 

Proverbs in the Old Testament. Thus, it tells us, that " if thou 
art become great after thou hast been lowly, and if thou hast 
heaped up riches after poverty, being because of that the chiefest 
in thy city; if thou art known for thy wealth and art become a 
great lord — let not thy heart be puffed up because of thy riches, for 
it is God who has given them unto thee. Despise not another who 
is as thou wast; be toward him as toward thy equal." Ptah-hotep 
must have been advanced in years at the time he wrote his book, 
if we may judge from the feeling language in which he describes 
old age. 

With the fifth dynasty the Memphite dynasties come to an 
end. The sixth was from Elephantine. Its most illustrious mon- 
arch was Merira Pepi I. (about 2540 b. a), whose able minister 
Una has left us a record of his widespread activity. Ships of war 
were built at the First Cataract to convey blocks of granite to the 
north ; multitudes of negroes were enrolled in the Egyptian army 
for campaigns against the Semites of Asia and the Herusha or 
Beduins of the Isthmus of Suez ; the garrisons in the Sinaitic penin- 
sula were strengthened ; and the temple of Hathor, at Denderah, 
built by the Shemsu-Hor in the mythical age, and repaired by 
Khufu, was rebuilt from the foundations according to the original 
plans, which had been accidentally discovered. 

The sixth dynasty ended, according to Manetho, with Queen 
Neit-akrit, or Nitokris, " with the rosy cheeks," who is said to have 
completed the third pyramid, left unfinished by Men-ka-ra, and, if 
we may believe Herodotos, avenged herself on the murderers of her 
brother. An age of trouble and disaster, it would seem, followed 
upon her death. The coypists of Manetho give but a short duration 
to the seventh dynasty, and the three kings placed after Neit-akrit 
by the Turin Papyrus are made to reign severally only two years, 
a month, and a day, four years, two months, and a day, and two 
years, a month, and a day. 

With the close of the sixth dynasty we may also date the 
close of the Old Empire. For several centuries the history of 
Egypt is a blank. A few royal names are met with on scarabs, or 
in the tablets of Abydos and Sakkarah, but their tombs and temples 
have not yet been found. When the darkness that envelops them 

Wiedemann doubts this, and believes that the whole story was invented 
in the time of Thothmes III., the real builder of the temple, in order to give 
the shrine the reputation of antiquity. 



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18 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

is cleared away, it is with the rise of the eleventh dynasty and the 
Middle Empire. How long it lasted we do not know, but the 
period cannot have been a short one. Profound changes have taken 
place when the veil is once more lifted from Egyptian history. We 
find ourselves in a new Egypt; the seat of power has been trans- 
ferred to Thebes, the physical type of the ruling caste is no longer 
that of the Old Empire, and a change has passed over the religion 
of the people. It has become gloomy, introspective, and mystical ; 
the light-hearted freedom and practical character that formerly 
distinguished it are gone. Art, too, has undergone modifications 
which imply a long age of development. It has ceased to be spon- 
taneous and realistic, and has become conventional. Even the fauna 
and flora are different, and the domestic cat, imported from 
Nubia, for the first time makes its appearance on the threshold of 
history. 

Thebes is the capital of the Middle Empire, and a new deity, 
Amon, the god of Thebes, presides over it. Its princes were long 
the vassals of the legitimate dynasties of Herakleopolis, and the 
first of whom we know, Entefa, claimed to be no more than the 
hereditary ruler of the Thebaid. His successor, Mentu-hotep I., 
assumed the title of King of Upper and Lower Egypt, and founded 
the eleventh dynasty. Under Seankh-ka-ra, the last Pharaoh of 
this dynasty, an important expedition was sent to Punt (the Somali 
coast) and returned thence with a large amount of incense gum 
and other products of the country. The era of Theban greatness, 
however, begins with the Amen-em-hats and Usertesens of the 
twelfth dynasty. Its founder, Amen-em-hat I. (about 2000 b. c.) 
won the throne by war, and followed the fashion of the old Mem- 
phite kings by building for himself a pyramid. We possess in the 
Sallier Papyrus the instructions which he is said to have written 
for his son. The relations between Egypt and the adjoining dis- 
tricts of Palestine are revealed to us in the story of an adventurer 
named Saneha, who is made to fly from the court of the Theban 
monarch to that of Ammuenshi, King of Tennu in Edom, where, 
like David, the Egyptian killed a " champion," famous for his 
strength and size. The obelisk which marks the site of Heliopolis, 
near Cairo, was raised by Usertesen I., the son and successor of 
Amen-em-hat ; it is the oldest of which we know. It characterizes 
the Middle Empire, just as the pyramid characterized the Old 
Empire. Meanwhile, new colonists were sent to Sinai, and the 



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THE NZV/ YORK 
PUBLIC LIBRARY 

ASTCF5, T.ITMOX 
TILDENfU U N I", A ' n r. N' 



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EGYPT 19 

turquoise mines were reopened. The Nubians and negroes of Aken 
and Kush were conquered, and in the eighth year of the reign of 
Usertesen III. the southern boundary of the empire was fixed at 
the fortresses of Semneh and Kummeh, thirty-five miles beyond the 
Second Cataract, no negro being allowed to come northward of 
them, except for purposes of trade. Here in succeeding reigns the 
height of the inundation was marked year by year on the rocks, 
from which we learn that its highest rise was 27 feet 3 inches 
above its rise at the present day. The great work of Amen-em-hat 
III. was the formation of the modern province of the Fayum. 
This district forms a natural basin of low levels and in ancient times 
was filled with water from the Nile. By a system of embankments 
Amen-em-hat confined the water within the limits of the celebrated 
Lake Moeris, and reclaimed more than twenty thousand acres of 
fertile land. The last remaining portion of Lake Moeris is the 
modern Birket-el-Karun. It is possible that Amen-em-hat peopled 
the district with the captives he had carried away from the south. 
We know from the paintings on the tomb of Prince Khnum-hotep 
at Beni-hassan that the immigration of the Semites into the Delta 
had already begun in the reign of Use^tesch II. In the sixth year 
of the latter's reign a family of thirty-seven Amu or Semites ar- 
rived with their asses and goods, and craved permission to settle 
on the banks of the Nile. We may still see them with their black 
hair and hooked noses, and Phoenician garments of many colors 
like the one which Joseph wore. 

The period of Egyptian history beginning with the thirteenth 
and ending with the seventeenth dynasty is one of great obscurity. 
According to Manetho, as cited by Eusebius, the thirteenth dynasty 
was from Thebes and comprised 60 kings who reigned 453 years, 
while the fourteenth dynasty, from Khois, the modern Sakha in 
the Delta, was made up of 76 kings whose reigns aggregated 484 
years. Though these figures are certainly far too high, it seems 
clear that there was a long succession of monarchs, many of them 
doubtless usurpers, whose very brief reigns afford an indication of 
the anarchic conditions prevailing in the land. The names of a 
number of these princes are found upon the monuments, but the 
order of their succession is difficult to determine. Under these 
conditions the power of Egypt steadily declined, and her weakness 
invited attack from without. Toward the end of the fourteenth 
dynasty the land was invaded by a horde of barbarians from Asia, 



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20 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

who soon made themselves masters of the Delta and of the greater 
part of the Nile Valley. 

These foreign invaders were the celebrated Hyksos, people 
whose origin has given rise to much discussion. Perhaps the most 
probable theory is that which connects them with the Mitannians, a 
Proto-Armenian or Hittite people who seem at this time to have 
ruled over northern Mesopotamia, and a considerable portion, at 
least, of Syria. In any case it is certain that the Hyksos were 
masters of Syria before coming to Egypt, and they brought many 
Semites in their train. The name Hyksos has usually been ex- 
plained as meaning " Shepherd kings," from hyk, " ruler," and 
shos, "shepherd," but this explanation, though attributed to 
Manetho, seems to be a later interpolation. Moreover, the variant 
reading Hykussos, found in Eusebius, points to the Egyptian 
hyku-khesu, " foreign rulers," as the true original of the name. 
Hyksos monuments are rare; after their expulsion the Egyptians 
did their utmost to destroy all that reminded them of the hated 
strangers, and modern investigations prove that the work of de- 
struction was thoroughly done. 

According to Manetho, the Hyksos formed dynasties fifteen 
and sixteen, and their rule lasted for 511 years, 7 but these figures 
are evidently far too high. Moreover, dynasty sixteen seems to be 
merely an erroneous repetition of dynasty fifteen, and there can be 
little doubt that the latter dynasty, with its six monarchs, whose 
names are given by Manetho, constituted the whole series of the 

7 This number is obtained from the valuable fragment of Manetho preserved 
by Josephus (" Cont Ap." L 14, 15). Africanus and Eusebius are hopelessly 
confused. Africanus makes the fifteenth dynasty consist of 6 " Phoenician " 
kings, reigning in all 264 years; but the number of years assigned to each does 
not always agree with that given by Josephus, and the leader of the dynasty, 
Salatis, is confounded with Saites, the leader of the seventeenth. Africanus 
further makes the sixteenth dynasty consist of 32 "Greek" Shepherd kings 
and last 518 years, the seventeenth dynasty consisting of 43 Shepherd kings for 
151 years. Eusebius, on the other hand, passes over two of the Shepherd 
dynasties, and, doubtless following the example of Manetho, reckons the con- 
temporary native princes at Thebes as alone legitimate. His fifteenth dynasty 
consequently consists of Thebans for 250 years, and his sixteenth dynasty also 
of 5 Thebans for 190 years. In the seventeenth dynasty he enumerates 4 Phoeni- 
cian Shepherd kings for 103 years, though 43 independent sovereigns had time 
meanwhile to reign at Thebes. While, therefore, according to Africanus, the 
Shepherds occupied the country for 953 years, according to Eusebius the con- 
temporary Theban dynasties extended over only 543 years (or, supposing the 
seventeenth dynasty to be contemporary with the fatter, only 440 years). The 
numbers are plainly exaggerated, and the round numbers in Eusebius suspicious. 



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EGYPT 21 

Hyksos kings. The period of the Hyksos domination cannot, there- 
fore, have lasted longer than about 150 years, or from a little before 
1700 until a little after 1600 b. c. 

Like the Moors in Spain, the Hyksos seem never to have suc- 
ceeded in reducing the whole of Egypt to subjection, though the few 
native princes who managed to maintain themselves in the south 
were no doubt tributary to the earlier Hyksos monarchs; and 
monuments of Kheyan and Apepi II. have been found at Gebelen, 
south of Thebes. Gradually, however, the power of the Hyksos 
became weaker, the tributary princes made themselves independ- 
ent, and the governor of Thebes collected around him a rival 
court. Meanwhile the Hyksos kings had fully submitted them- 
selves to the influence of Egyptian civilization. They had adopted 
the manners and customs, the art and literature, even the religion 
and the gods, of their conquered subjects. They gave themselves 
the titles of their predecessors, and raised temples and sphinxes 
in honor of the deities of Egypt. Zoan or Tanis was made their 
capital and adorned with splendid buildings, so that its foundation 
could well be ascribed to them. Here they surrounded themselves 
with the scribes and savants of both Egypt and Asia, and a mathe- 
matical papyrus written under their patronage has survived to tell us 
of the culture they professed. Their hold upon the country was 
confirmed by the construction of two fortresses at Hat-Weret 
or Avaris, in the Sethroite nome, and Sherohan 8 on the frontier. 

But the rule of the Hyksos was drawing to a close. The his- 
torical romance, preserved in the first Sallier Papyrus, seems to 
embody a popular tradition that the war which resulted in their 
expulsion had its origin in religious causes. However this may be, 
Sekenen-Ra, prince of Thebes, finally felt himself strong enough to 
cast off the foreign yoke, and the struggle for independence was 
begun. The foreigners were driven from one frontier to another 
and, though Sekenen-Ra was killed in battle, the war was vigorously 
carried on by his successors, Karnes and Aahmes. Avaris was cap- 
tured in the fifth year of the last-named prince and Sherohan in 
the sixth, and Egypt was now free. Aahmes founded the eighteenth 
dynasty and the New Empire ( 1580 b. c), and with it a new era of 
prosperity and glory for the country of his ancestors. 

The same outburst of vigor and military activity that followed 
the expulsion of the Moors from Spain followed also the expulsion 
of the Hyksos. The injuries Egypt had endured at the hands of 
•Sharuhen in Josh. xix. 6. 



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22 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

Asia were avenged upon Asia itself. The old policy of exclusive- 
ness and non-interference in Asiatic affairs was renounced, the war 
was carried into the East, and the boundaries of the empire were 
laid on the banks of the Euphrates. Palestine was occupied by 
Egyptian garrisons, and in thus flinging herself upon Asia, Egypt 
became an Asiatic power. The penalty was paid by a future gen- 
eration. Asiatic customs and aspirations penetrated into the king- 
dom of the Pharaohs, the population and the court itself became 
semi- Asiatic, and, exhausted by the efforts it had made, Egypt at 
last fell a prey to internal dissensions and the assaults of foreign 
enemies. 

But for a time, under the great monarchs of the eighteenth and 
nineteenth dynasties, the brilliant policy they had inaugurated 
seemed eminently successful. Time after time their armies marched 
out of " hundred-gated Thebes," returning with new rolls of con- 
quered provinces, with the plunder and tribute of the East, and 
with trains of captives for the erection of the gigantic monuments 
in which the spirit of the conquerors sought expression. The city- 
like ruin of Karnak, with its obelisks and columns and carvings, 
the huge monoliths of granite that watched over the plain of Thebes, 
the temple of Abu-Simbel, hewn out of a mountain and guarded 
by colossi, whose countenances betokened the divine calm of undis- 
puted majesty, were all so many memorials of titanic conceptions 
and more than human pride. Nobler and better than these, how- 
ever, were the earlier monuments of a Thothmes or a Hatasu, in 
which Egyptian art gave utterance to its renaissance in delicately 
finished and brilliantly painted sculpture on stone. The little tem- 
ple of Amada in Nubia, built by Thothmes III. in honor of his 
young wife, or the ruined walls of Queen Hatasu's temple at Deir- 
el-Bahri, on which is carved the story of Egyptian exploration 
in the land of Punt, are, in the artist's eyes, worth far more than 
the colossal monuments of Ramses II. 

The first care of Aahmes or Amasis, after driving out the 
foreigner, was to unite Egypt again into a single monarchy. The 
old feudal nobility had been exterminated in the Hyksos wars, and 
the repeated defeat of the Nubians placed the country between the 
Cataracts once more in Egyptian hands. But it was his second suc- 
cessor, Thothmes I., who was the first of a long line of great con- 
querors. In the south he added the Soudan to Egypt, and appointed 
" a governor of Kush " ; in the east he carried his arms as far as 



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EGYPT 28 

Naharina, or the land of the Orontes. But his achievements were 
eclipsed by those of his grandson, Thothmes III. (1501-1447 b. a). 
For a while his aunt Hatasu ruled as regent with more than mascu- 
line energy and ability, and her young nephew was believed in later 
legend to have fled, like the god Horos, to the marshes of Buto in 
the north. The loftiest obelisk in the world was, by her orders, 
carved out of the granite rocks of Assuan, engraved, floated down 
the Nile, and set up at Karnak, in the short space of seven months. 
Stately temples rose at her command, and a voyage of discovery 
was made to the land of Punt (the Somali coast), whence the ex- 
plorers brought back strange plants and stones and animals, among 
them a chimpanzee. For fifteen years Hatasu ruled supreme. 
Then the youthful Thothmes, grown to man's estate, claimed and 
received a share in the government, and six years later the queen 
died. 

As a military power, as the arbiter of the destinies of the 
ancient civilized world, Egypt reached its zenith under the sway 
of Thothmes. During his long reign of fifty-three years, eleven 
months, and four days, the country was covered with monuments, 
and became the center of trade and intercourse. Countless treas- 
ures flowed into it, and Thebes took rank as the capital of the world. 
A royal botanical and zoological garden was established, stocked 
with the curious plants and animals the king had brought back 
with him from his campaigns, among which we may recognize the 
mama or dom-palm. In the year after his aunt's death he shat- 
tered the combined Canaanite forces, under the Hittite king of 
Kadesh on the Orontes, at Megiddo, where the enemy left behind 
them, among other spoil, chariots of silver and gold that had been 
made in Cyprus. A fortress was built at the foot of Lebanon, near 
Arados, to secure the new conquests. But it needed fourteen cam- 
paigns before the adjoining districts could be thoroughly subdued, 
and in the course of these we hear of the Egyptian king hunting 
elephants near the town of Ni, midway between Carchemish and 
Kadesh. After this, year by year, tribute and taxes of every kind 
came in regularly to the Egyptian treasury from the towns of Pales- 
tine, Phoenicia, and northern Syria. Kush, too, sent its offering, 
and Egyptian officials visited the Soudan ; while Punt — the coast of 
Somali — poured its products into the trading vessels of the Egyp- 
tian king. 

His successors, Amen-hotep or Amenophis II., Thothmes IV., 



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24 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

and Amenophis III., maintained the empire they had inherited, with 
occasional raids upon the negroes, for the sake partly of slaves, 
partly of the gold found in their country. The two colossi in the 
plain of Thebes, one of them the miracle-working Memnon of 
classical days, are statues of Amenophis III. The successor of 
Amenophis III. was Amenophis IV., his son by his favorite wife 
Teie, a lady who was apparently not of royal birth. Amenophis 
IV. was a fanatical reformer who endeavored to supersede the old 
polytheistic religion of Egypt by the exclusive worship of the Sun 
as the supreme source of life and power. Open war soon broke out 
between him and the priests. By royal edict the sacred names of 
Amon and Mut were erased from the monuments of Egypt, the 
king's own name was changed to Khu-en-Aten — " the splendor of 
the solar disk," and Thebes, the city of Amon, with all its temples 
and monuments of victory, was abandoned, in order that a new 
capital might be founded at Tell-el-Amarna. Here a magnificent 
temple was built to the new divinity of the Pharaoh, and all the 
resources of Egyptian art were lavished upon its adornment. It 
would seem that the king had originally intended to plant this in 
the city of Thebes itself, and that his retirement to his new capital 
was an enforced flight. Here he surrounded himself by his relations 
and the converts to the new doctrines— one of the latter, Meri-Ra, 
being made high priest of his temple, and adorned with a golden 
chain. In the meantime Egypt, weakened by internal dissensions, 
was unable to maintain a firm hold upon her Asiatic provinces. A 
clear picture of Egypt's foreign relations during this period is given 
by the invaluable collection of letters and dispatches found, in the 
winter of 1887- 1888, in the archive chamber of Amenophis IV. at 
Tell-el-Amarna. These letters, inscribed on tablets of clay in the 
Babylonian cuneiform writing and composed, with few exceptions, 
in the Babylonian language, proceed from a multitude of petty 
princes and Egyptian officials in Palestine and Phoenicia, as well 
as from the kings of more distant countries, like Mitanni in north- 
ern Mesopotamia, Assyria, and Babylon. A portion of them are 
addressed to Amenophis III., but the majority date from the reign 
of his son and successor. The letters from the more distant Asiatic 
provinces are uniformly friendly in tone, and refer to treaties with 
Egypt, to mutual alliances by marriage, to commercial relations, 
and to the interchange of gifts. With the close, apparently, of the 
reign of Amenophis III. begins a series of letters and dispatches 



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EGYPT *5 

from Syria and Phoenicia indicating the decadence of the Egyptian 
power in those countries. Revolt after revolt is reported, and the 
aid of more troops is constantly demanded. The cities are all 
falling away from the king; the friends of Egypt are few and weak, 
and surrounded by powerful enemies ; unless promptly supported by 
strong reinforcements they can no longer hold out, and the whole 
country must soon be lost to the Pharaoh. Amenophis, thoroughly 
occupied by his bitter contest with the adherents of the old religion, 
was in no position to render effective aid, and the close of his reign 
saw Egypt shorn of all the foreign possessions gained by the prow- 
ess of his warlike predecessors. He died, leaving seven daughters 
and no sons, and was followed by two of his sons-in-law and an 
officer of his court, the " divine father " Ai, whose united reigns 
hardly filled up a single generation. Ai had married the foster- 
mother of Khu-en-Aten, and during his short reign seems to have 
carried out a vigorous policy. He returned to the orthodox worship 
of Amon, and was accordingly allowed a place in the royal burial- 
ground of Thebes by the priests. But his death was the signal for 
fresh dissensions, which were healed only by the accession of Hor- 
em-heb, the Armais — not Horos — of Manetho (whose list of the 
kings of the eighteenth dynasty is in the greatest confusion). Hor- 
em-heb seems to have been related to the royal family either by 
birth or marriage, and, as the champion of orthodoxy, his preten- 
sions to the throne were supported by the powerful priesthood of 
Amon. He enlarged the great temple of Amon at Thebes, recon- 
quered Kush, and received tribute from Punt. With him the 
eighteenth dynasty came to an end. 

Ramses (Ramessu) I., the founder of the nineteenth dynasty, 
reigned for a few years about 1320 b. c, but nothing is known in 
regard to the circumstances attending his accession to the throne. 
It is possible that he was in some way related to Hor-em-heb. He 
waged war in Nubia, and probably made a treaty of peace with the 
Khetta or Hittites, now the most powerful people in Western Asia. 
His son, Seti Menephthah I., or Sethos, the builder of the great 
hall of columns at Karnak and the principal temple of Abydos, 
once more restored the waning military fame of Egypt. The incur- 
sions of the Beduins into the Delta were mercilessly avenged. 
Palestine was overrun from one end to the other, and the territory 
of the Prince of Kadesh on the Orontes was invaded. Here, how- 
ever, Seti came in contact with the Hittite forces, and, though 



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26 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

he claims a victory, his progress seems to have been effectually 
checked. A new enemy had meanwhile appeared on the coast in 
the shape of the Libyans. They were, however, defeated, and 
Thebes was filled with the spoil of the stranger. 9 Seti was suc- 
ceeded by his son, Ramses II., the grand monarque of Egypt. His 
long reign (1300- 1234 b. a), his colossal buildings, his wars, 
and the victories he claimed, all make him the prototype of Louis 
Quatorze. The earlier portion of his reign was spent in war with 
the Hittites, who occupied the former Asiatic possessions of Egypt 
as far as the borders of Palestine. In two campaigns he gained 
possession of southern Phoenicia as far as Beyrut, and in his fifth 
year he moved against the important city of Kadesh on the Orontes. 
The Hittites summoned their allies from the farthest regions of 
their empire, and came to the aid of the threatened city. It was here 
that Ramses saved himself from an ambush of the enemy, partly 
perhaps by his personal bravery, partly by the swiftness of his 
horses. But the event was made the subject of a long heroic poem, 
wherein it was treated with true epic exaggeration ; the interference 
of the gods was freely invoked, and the achievement transferred to 
the region of myth. But the vanity of Ramses never wearied of 
reading the legend in which he played the leading part. The poem 
was inscribed on the walls of Abydos, of Luxor, of Karnak, of Abu- 
Simbel,— everywhere, in short, where the grand monarque raised 
his buildings and allowed his subjects to read the record of his 
deeds. As a matter of fact his victories over the Hittites were 
Kadmeian ones. At one time the Egyptian generals prevailed over 
the enemy, and the statues of Ramses were erected in the city of 
Tunep, or carved in stone at the mouth of the Nahr-el-Kelb, while 
hymns of victory were sung at Thebes, and gangs of captives were 
lashed to work at the monuments of the mighty conqueror ; but at 
another time the tide of fortune changed, and Carchemish rather 
than Thebes had reason to triumph. The long struggle finally came 
to an end, and, in the twenty-first year of Ramses, the Egyptian 
Pharaoh and Kheta-sira, " the great king of the Hittites," entered 
into an alliance, defensive and offensive, upon equal terms. The 
treaty was engraved on a tablet of silver, and a copy was sculptured 

•It is difficult to determine the exact extent of Seti's success, since, like 
many other Egyptian kings, he has at Karnak usurped the inscriptions and 
victories of one of his predecessors, Thothmes III., without taking the trouble 
to draw up a list of his own. 



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THE UNWRAPPED MUMMY OF THE PHAKAOH KAM.St.S 11, I3OO-I234 B.C. 

IN THE MUSEUM OF BULACO, NEAR CAIRO, AND HIS 

STATUE IN THE MUSEUM OF TURIN, ITALY 

Mummy, after a photograph placed at the publishers' disposal by Emit Brugsch 
Bey, director of the Gizeh Museum 



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EGYPT 27 

on the walls of the temples of Ramses. Thirteen years later it was 
further cemented by the marriage of Ramses with the daughter of 
the Hittite king. 

Meanwhile raids were made upon the hapless negroes in the 
south, and Askalon, which had dared to resist the will of the Egyp- 
tian monarch, was stormed and sacked. The Libyans sent tribute, 
and fresh gold mines were opened in Nubia, where miserable cap- 
tives rotted to death. The Israelites in Goshen built the treasure 
cities of Pithom and Raamses, or Zoan, and colossal statues of the 
monarch were carved out of the granite rocks of Syene, and set up 
in front of the temple of Ptah at Memphis, and of the Ramesseum, 
"the tomb of Osymandyas," at Thebes. The monolith of the 
Ramesseum, now shattered by earthquake, was no less than sixty 
feet high. But Ramses cared more for the size and number of his 
buildings than for their careful construction and artistic finish. The 
work is mostly " scamped," the walls ill-built, the sculptures coarse 
and tasteless. To this, however, Abu-Simbel forms a striking ex- 
ception. Here, among the silent sands of Nubia, one of the world's 
wonders was carved in the rock. A huge and solemn temple was 
hewn out of a mountain, and its entrance guarded by four colossi, 
each with a divine calm imprinted upon its mighty features, and 
with eyes fixed toward the rising of the sun. Abu-Simbel is the 
noblest memorial left us by the barren wars and vainglorious monu- 
ments of Ramses-Sesostris. 

His family must have been a large one. The temple of Abydos 
records the names of sixty daughters and fifty-nine sons, the four- 
teenth of whom, Menephthah II., was the next king. His first work 
was to repel a formidable naval attack by Libyans and various tribes 
from the north, in whom some have seen Sardinians, Sicilians, and 
Akhaeans. They were led by the Libyan king, Marmaiu, the son 
of Did, and had penetrated as far as Heliopolis, sweeping over the 
Delta like a swarm of locusts. The invaders were almost completely 
destroyed, and prodigious booty fell into the hands of the royal 
army. This was in the fifth year of the king's reign. An inscrip- 
tion of Menephthah, found at Thebes in 1896, contains the only 
definite reference to the Israelites to be found upon the Egyptian 
monuments. After celebrating his victory over the Libyans, the 
king boasts that Palestine had been reduced to submission, that 
Askalon, Gezer, and Jamnia have been chastised, and that " Israel 
has been ravaged, its crops destroyed." Here Israel appears as a 



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28 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

part of the settled population of the land, and, since it is clear from 
the Amarna letters that the chosen people had not yet entered 
Canaan in the reign of Amenophis IV., the date of the Exodus 
must be placed, in round numbers, somewhere between 1380 and 
1230 b. c. It probably occurred not long before the year 1280 b. c. 
After three more inglorious reigns, the nineteenth dynasty 
ended in anarchy and confusion, and for a time a Syrian usurper 
made himself master of the country. The history of this troubled 
time is glanced at in the great Harris Papyrus ; it is given in more 
detail by Diodorus Siculus, who calls the rebels Babylonians, and 
by Manetho, who, according to Josephus, terms their leader Osar- 
siph, and identifies him with Moses. Finally, Set-nekht, who seems 
to have been related in some way to the family of Ramses II., 
advanced with an army from the south, restored order, put down 
the rival chiefs, and united the country under one scepter. He 
ushered in the twentieth dynasty, and was shortly succeeded by 
his son, Ramses III., the Rhampsinitos of Herodotos, who had pre- 
viously been co-regent with his father for a few years. Ramses III. 
(1200- 1 179 b. c.) is the last of the native heroes. Egypt was sur- 
rounded by its enemies when he assumed its double crown. The 
Libyans, who toward the close of the nineteenth dynasty had estab- 
lished themselves in the western portion of the Delta, were the first 
to attack it. But they were driven off after a fierce battle, in which 
they left 12,535 dead upon the field. The next struggle was by sea 
and resulted in the subjection of the warlike Philistines, who had 
recently effected a settlement on the Palestinian coast and were 
making piratical incursions into the Delta. The way being thus 
cleared, Ramses marched through Palestine, ravaging and plunder- 
ing as he went, into the land of the Amorites, and returned home 
laden with booty. Then in the king's eleventh year came a new 
assault by the Libyans, under their chiefs Kapar and his son Mash- 
ashare. They had penetrated as far as the Kanopic branch of the 
Nile when the avenging hand of Ramses fell upon them. They 
were partly slain, partly drafted into the Egyptian forces, for 
Egypt was now obliged to depend largely upon mercenary troops. 
Ramses had filled his coffers with the spoil of his enemies, and now 
increased his wealth by building a fleet of merchantmen in the 
harbor of Suez, by renewing the mining stations of Sinai, and by 
opening mines of copper elsewhere. The construction of new tem- 
ples marked the revival of Egyptian prosperity, and at Medinet- 



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EGYPT 89 

Abu, opposite Luxor, the solitary example of an Egyptian palace 
that remains was erected. But with all his riches and success 
Ramses was not preserved from a dangerous harem conspiracy, 
which, however, was detected and its authors put to death. When 
he died he left his son, Ramses IV., a prosperous and peaceful king- 
dom; the empire of earlier days had gone, and Egypt was con- 
tracted to its own borders, but within those borders it was at peace. 
The succeeding kings of the nineteenth dynasty were all named 
Ramses, and each was as insignificant as his predecessor. The high 
priests of Amon at Thebes gradually supplanted their power, 
until at last all things were ripe for revolution, and the high priest 
Herhor set aside the legitimate heirs and seized upon the throne, 

IIOO B. C. 

Herhor, however, did not long retain the royal dignity. About 
1090 b. c. King Smendes (Nes-bi-n-dedi) of Tanis established a 
new dynasty, alone recognized by Manetho under the title of the 
twenty-first, and his son, Pisebkhanu I., expelled the family of 
Herhor, who took refuge in Ethiopia and established there a king- 
dom with Napata as its capital. Pinodem II., the son of Piseb- 
khanu, was made high priest of Amon at Thebes and, when he 
ultimately succeeded his father as king, the high priesthood passed 
in succession to his sons, Masaherta and Men-kheper-re. It was 
under the rule of the Tanite Pharaohs that the bodies of Thothmes 
III., of Ramses II., and of the other great princes of the eighteenth 
and nineteenth dynasties were transferred from their tombs to the 
secret cavern near Deir-el-Bahri, at Thebes, where they were in- 
terred along with the members of the family of Pinodem. In the 
meantime a new power appeared upon the scene. After the time of 
Ramses III. the immigration of the Libyans into the Delta began 
again, and large numbers of them were enrolled as mercenary 
troops in the Egyptian army. Like the Mamelukes of a later 
period, these troops acquired a strong influence in the state, and 
their commander, styled the " general of the Mashawasha," became 
in time second only to the king in power. This important office 
seems to have been hereditary, and was held under the Tanite kings 
by a Libyan family whose genealogy is traced in the inscriptions. 
About 950 b. c. a member of this family, Sheshank I., assumed the 
throne of Egypt and founded the twenty-second dynasty, establish- 
ing his residence at Bubastis. 

Sheshank signalized his reign by overrunning Judah, Edom, 



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80 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

and the southern part of Israel, and capturing Jerusalem, a list of 
the conquered towns being engraved on the wall of Karnak. His 
successors, whose names have been erroneously imagined to be 
Assyrian, proved a race of rots faineants. Egypt became once more 
divided among a number of petty kings, and the Ethiopian monarchs 
of Napata, who derived their origin from the banished family of 
Herhor, claimed suzerainty over their former rulers. One of these, 
Piankhi, has left us a record of his triumphs (circ. 750 b. c.) over 
Tefnekht of Sais — called Tnephakhthos, the father of Bocchoris, 
by Diodorus — who had captured Memphis, and made himself mas- 
ter of all Lower Egypt. The rebel prince himself took refuge in a 
stronghold called Mesed, but finally surrendered himself upon assur- 
ance of pardon and amnesty. His son, Bak-en-ran-ef , or Bocchoris, 
occupied the whole of Manetho's twenty-fourth dynasty. Bocchoris 
is said to have been captured and burned alive by the Ethiopian 
Shabaka or Sabako, the son of Kashta, who founded the twenty- 
fifth dynasty and reunited the Egyptian monarchy. He was fol- 
lowed first by his son Shabatuk and then by Taharka (Tirhakah or 
Tarakos), who married the widow of Sabako. Tirhakah, who 
ascended the throne about 693 or 694 b. c, found himself in pos- 
session of a prosperous kingdom, — threatened, however, by the 
rising power of the Assyrians, and undermined by native discontent 
at the rule of the Ethiopian stranger. In the twenty-third year of 
his reign (670 b. c.) he was attacked and driven out of Egypt by 
the Assyrian armies of Esarhaddon. Egypt became a province 
of Assyria, divided into twenty satrapies, each governed by a native 
prince. It was these twenty satrapies that constituted the dodec- 
archy of Herodotos. 

The following year Tirhakah marched down from Ethiopia 
and endeavored to recover his lost dominion. He was aided by the 
satraps and people, who naturally preferred the rule of the Ethiopian 
to that of the Assyrian. He advanced as far as the Delta, but was 
driven back again by the Assyrians, and Necho of Memphis and 
Sais, the chief ally of Tirhakah, was sent in chains to Nineveh. 
Retreating as far as Thebes, the Ethiopian monarch seized upon 
that city and was preparing to renew the contest when he died 
(668-667 B. a). His successor, Tanut-Amen, determined once 
more to wrest the sovereignty of Egypt from Asia. Thebes and 
Memphis opened their gates, and even Tyre sent help. But the 
Assyrians returned and executed terrible vengeance. No-Amon of 



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EGYPT 81 

Thebes was plundered and destroyed, the ground strewn with its 
ruins, and its rich booty was carried off to Nineveh. 10 

But the Assyrian yoke was at last shaken off. Psamtik or 
Psammetikhos, the son of Necho of Sais, led the insurgents. Of 
Libyan origin, sprung from the house of Bocchoris, he strengthened 
his claim to the throne by marriage with an Ethiopian princess, the 
niece of Sabako. In 663 b. c. he succeeded his father as a vassal of 
Ashur-bani-pal, King of Assyria, but a few years later — perhaps 
about 660 b. c. — he renounced his allegiance, and, subduing the petty 
rulers that divided the country, made himself master of all Egypt. 
His military success was due to the aid of Greek and Carian mer- 
cenaries, furnished, it is said, by Gyges, King of Lydia, and the 
foreign troops were rewarded with a permanent settlement near 
Bubastis. With the twenty-sixth dynasty (660 b. c.) the St. Luke's 
summer of Egyptian history begins. The revival of peace, of 
power, and of prosperity was marked also by a revival of art. Sais 
was adorned with buildings which almost rivaled the mighty monu- 
ments of Thebes; the sacred bulls were enshrined in vast sarcoph- 
agi in a new gallery of the Serapeum; screens were introduced 
into the temples to hide the interior from the vulgar gaze ; and a new 
cursive hand, the demotic, came into use. But the government had 
ceased to be national ; it had gained its power by Hellenic aid, and 
from this time forward Greek influence began to prevail. The 
king's person is protected by a Greek bodyguard; the native sol- 
diers desert to Ethiopia, and the oldest Ionic inscription we possess 
records the pursuit of them by the foreign mercenaries of Psam- 
metikhos. The mart of Naukratis is founded by the Milesians at 
the mouth of the Kanopic channel, and a new class of persons, inter- 
preters or dragomen, spring up in the country. 

Necho (reigned 609-594 b. c), the son of Psammetikhos, flung 
aside the old exclusive policy of Egypt, and in rivalry with the mer- 
chant cities of Ionia strove to make the Egyptians the chief trading 
people of the world. An attempt was accordingly made to unite 
the Red Sea and the Mediterranean by cutting a canal from Bubastis 
to the Bitter Lakes, and only given up after the death of 120,000 
of the laborers. Phoenician ships were sent to circumnavigate 
Africa, and returned successful after three years' absence. But the 
inland trade of Asia, which passed through Carchemish and Tyre, 
still remained to be secured. The fall of the Assyrian Empire 
allowed this project also to be realized, and Josiah, who stood in 
i0 Thc destruction of the city is alluded to in Nahum iii. 8-10. 



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82 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

the way of the Egyptian army, was defeated and slain. But the 
hymns of triumph once chanted to Amon were now replaced by an 
embassy to the Greek oracle of Brankhidae, carrying with it the 
war tunic of the Egyptian king. Egypt was fast becoming Hellen- 
ized ; the old riddle of the sphinx was being solved, and the vener- 
able mystery of Egypt yielding to the innovating rationalism of the 
upstart Greek. Necho's dreams of Asiatic sovereignty were dissi- 
pated by his defeat at Carchemish at the hands of Nebuchadrezzar. 
His successor, Psammetikhos II., reigned but six years (594-588 
b. c.) ; Uah-ab-ra (Hophra), or Apries, who followed (588 b. a), 
aided the Syrians in their long resistance to Nebuchadrezzar. He 
was unable to prevent the fall of Jerusalem, but seems to have 
warded off a Babylonian attack on Egypt. Then came the ill-fated 
expedition against Cyrene and Barka, followed by the revolt of the 
army and the accession of Aahmes II., or Amasis, to the throne ( 570 
b. a). Apries and his Greek mercenaries were overthrown at 
Momemphis, and Apries, after holding out for nearly three years 
in the Delta, finally fell in battle. Amasis, a nobleman of Siuf , who 
had married a sister of the late king, and whose mother, Tapert, 
was related to Apries, 11 continued the policy of his predecessors. 
Naukratis was granted a charter and constitution, all Hellenes 
whatsoever being admitted to its privileges, and temples were raised 
to Hellenic gods. Meantime, Cyprus was conquered, and wealth 
and plenty flowed into Egypt. The end, however, was at hand. 
Kambyses declared war against the Egyptian king, and, led across 
the desert by a Greek refugee, entered Egypt (525 b. c). Amasis 
died at this critical moment, and his young and inexperienced suc- 
cessor, Psammetikhos III., was defeated, captured in Memphis, and 
put to death. And so the land of Thothmes and Ramses became a 
dependency of the Persian Empire. 

In 486 b. c. a revolt broke out under Khabash, the effect of 
which was to divert the preparations Darius had made for attacking 
Greece, and thus saved Greece and the West. But the revolt itself 
was crushed by Xerxes in 483 b. c, and Achaemenes Cyrus, whose 
tomb still exists at Murghab, the brother of Xerxes, was appointed 
satrap. Once more, in 463 b. c, Egypt revolted. Its leaders 
were Amyrtaeos and the Libyan king, Inaros. Aided by the Athe- 
nians they won the battle of Papremis and fortified themselves in 
Memphis. But Megabazus, the Persian general (460 b. a), finally 
succeeded in capturing the Egyptian capital. Inaros was impaled, 
** Revillout in Revue igyptologique, 1881, pp. 96-8. 



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EGYPT 88 

and Amyrtaeos fled to the marshes of Elbo, his son Pausiris being 
appointed Persian viceroy, and Thannyras vassal king of Libya. 

In 415 b. c. came the third revolt. This time the insurgents 
were successful. Amyrtaeos emerged from his place of refuge, — 
if, indeed, he were the Amyrtaeos who had escaped from the Per- 
sians nearly half a century before, and ruled over an independent 
Egypt for six years. His successor, Naifaarut or Nepherites L, 
founded the twenty-ninth or Mendesian dynasty. Then came Hakar 
or Akhoris, who sent help to the Spartan king Agesilaos during his 
campaigns against Persia (395 b. c), and allied himself with Evag- 
oras of Cyprus, who had driven the Persians from the island. His 
son was the last of the dynasty. He was followed by Nekht-hor- 
heb or Nektanebos I. (382-364 b. a), the leader of the thirtieth, 
who intrusted the command of his fleet to the Greek Khabrias. 
The army of Artaxerxes was repulsed, and temples were built or 
restored in Lower Egypt. But it was the last effort of the old 
Egyptian spirit. Teher or Takhos, his successor, with the help of 
Agesilaos, was deposed by Nektanebos II., and fled to the Persian 
court. Eighteen years later Artaxerxes Okhos dispatched an army 
to avenge the wrongs of Teher and recover a lost province to Persia. 
Sidon, with its Egyptian garrison, was taken, and the Persians, 
aided by Greek mercenaries, besieged and captured Pelusium. The 
Greek garrison of Bubastis surrendered, Nektanebos fled with his 
treasures to Ethiopia, and the last native dynasty ceased to exist 
(343 b. c.) 

The Persians did not enjoy their victory long. The empire 
soon passed from them to Alexander (332 b. c), who was welcomed 
in Egypt as a deliverer. In 331 b. c. he visited the Oasis of Amon 
in the Libyan Desert, where he was recognized by the priests as the 
son of the god Amon, and in the winter of the same year he 
founded the city of Alexandria. On the death of Alexander (323 
b. a), and the division of his dominions, Egypt and Libya fell to 
the share of his general, Ptolemy, who, though he did not assume 
the royal title until 306 b. c, was from the first an independent 
ruler. Under his able rule Egypt became a power of the very first 
rank. The new capital, Alexandria, grew rapidly in power and 
importance, and soon became the foremost city of the world as a 
center of commerce and of culture. The famous museum and 
library, founded by Ptolemy, exerted a profound influence and 
attracted to Alexandria men of science and letters from all parts of 



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84 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

the Hellenic world. In 285 b. c. Ptolemy L, who was surnamed 
Soter (the Preserver), abdicated in favor of his son, Ptolemy II., 
and died two years later at the age of eighty-four. Under the 
peaceful reign of Ptolemy II. Philadelphus (285-247 b. c.) Egypt 
prospered greatly; her maritime supremacy was supported by a 
powerful fleet, and a great trade developed, both upon the Mediter- 
ranean and the Red Sea. Literature and science were diligently 
fostered by Philadelphus, who is said to have suggested the prepara- 
tion of Manetho's Egyptian history from native sources. Tradition 
also alleges that the king caused the Hebrew Scriptures to be trans- 
lated into Greek by seventy (or seventy-two) elders sent from 
Jerusalem at his request. But the Septuagint version of the Old 
Testament, so-called from the traditional seventy translators, was 
not the work of a single generation, though it is not impossible that 
the Pentateuch may have been translated as early as the reign of 
Philadelphus. Ptolemy III. Euergetes, who reigned from 247 to 
222 b. c, overran the Seleucid dominions in Asia, and gained pos- 
session of Ccele Syria and Antioch. Under his reign Egypt reached 
the highest point of military glory, prosperity and wealth; hence- 
forth there was a steady decline. In the reign of Ptolmey IV. Philo- 
pator (222-205 b. c.) Antiochus III. seized Ccele Syria and Palestine 
and, though they were recovered by Philopator, who signally de- 
feated the Syrian king at Raphia, Antiochus took advantage of the 
minority of Ptolemy V. Epiphanes (205-181 b. a), the son and 
successor of Philopator, to gain possession of these provinces, and 
they were henceforth lost to Egypt. Under Ptolemy VII. Philometer 
(181-146 b. c.) Antiochus IV. twice invaded Egypt and would have 
made himself master of the country had not the Roman envoy, M. 
Popilius Laenas, intervened and ordered Antiochus back to Syria. 
With Ptolemy XII. (81-80 b. a), surnamed Alexander II., the legit- 
imate line of the Ptolemies came to an end. His successor, Ptolemy 
XIII. (81-51 b. a), surnamed Neos Dionysus or Auletes (the 
Piper), was the natural son of Ptolemy X. Lathyros. He was ad- 
dicted to every kind of vice and debauchery, and was undoubtedly 
the most idle and worthless of the Ptolemies. When he died (51 
b. c.) he left his kingdom to his daughter, the famous Cleopatra, and 
his eldest son, Ptolemy XIV., who was to marry his sister, and ap- 
pointed the Roman people his executors. Cleopatra was married 
successively to her two brothers, Ptolemy XIV. (51-47 B « c «) anc * 
Ptolmey XV. (47-45 b. c), and caused Caesarion, her son by Julius 



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EGYPT 85 

Caesar, to be associated with her on the throne under the title of 
Ptolemy XVI. (45-30 b. c). Through her influence over Caesar 
and Antony she managed to preserve a nominal independence for 
Egypt, but after the defeat of Antony at the battle of Actium and 
his subsequent suicide, Cleopatra, learning that Octavian was re- 
solved to exhibit her in his triumph at Rome, died by her own hand, 
and Egypt became a Roman province under the government of a 
prefect of equestrian rank. 

Under the Roman rule occasional revolts had to be suppressed, 
the fierce desert tribes of the Blemmyes were often troublesome, 
and the country was invaded by the Ethiopians (24 b. c.) and by 
Zenobia, Queen of Palmyra (270 a. d.) ; but on the whole Egypt 
remained a quiet possession of the empire. Under the earlier Roman 
emperors the old religion was protected and many temples were 
built or restored. Christianity was early introduced, and spread so 
rapidly that before the middle of the third century a. d. there were 
twenty bishoprics in Egypt, and five provincial councils were held 
there before the year 311. The new religion was severely perse- 
cuted at times, but in 391 a. d. paganism was suppressed, except in 
the island of Philae, and Christianity was established as the state 
religion. A long and bitter contest between the schismatic Mono- 
physite Copts and the orthodox (Greek) Christians, called by their 
opponents Melchites, finally ended in the predominance of the for- 
mer, who, at the beginning of the sixth century, were in possession 
of nearly all the churches. In 536 they separated from the Greek 
communion and elected a patriarch of their own. In 619 Egypt 
was invaded and Alexandria was taken by the Persians under 
Chosroes, but they were expelled ten years later by Heraclius, who 
persecuted the Copts and banished their patriarch. 

The conquest of Egypt by the Mohammedan Arabs (639-641) 
was undoubtedly both welcomed and assisted by the native Chris- 
tians, who were greatly embittered against their Greek rulers. 
Amru, the general of the Caliph Omar, captured Pelusium in 639 
and founded Fostat, now Old Cairo, in 640. In December, 641, 
Alexandria surrendered after an obstinate defense, and soon all 
Egypt was in the hands of the Moslems. For more than two cen- 
turies the country was governed by viceroys appointed by the 
Caliphs of Damascus and Bagdad, but in 868 one of the viceroys, 
Ahmed-ibu-Tulun, made himself independent Sultan of Egypt, and 
extended his rule over Syria as well. From 969 to 1 171 Egypt was 



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86 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

the seat of government of the Fatimite Caliphs, whose beneficent 
rule greatly increased the material prosperity of the country. Agri- 
culture and commerce flourished, and the population increased at a 
most remarkable rate. At the same time the Moslem capital, Cairo, 
became one of the greatest centers of religion and learning in Islam. 
In 1171 the Fatimite dynasty was overthrown by Saladin (Salah- 
ed-Din Yusuf ibn-Ayub), who founded the dynasty of the Ayubites 
(1171-1250), and united a considerable portion of the Mohamme- 
dan world under his sway. In 12 19 Damietta was captured by the 
Crusaders, but was recovered two years later by Saladin's nephew, 
the Sultan Melik-el-Kamil. In 1249 Damietta was again occupied 
by a crusading army under Louis IX. (Saint Louis) of France, but 
the Crusaders were totally defeated at Mansurah, and Louis him- 
self was made prisoner. In the meantime a new power had arisen 
in Egypt. The successors of Saladin had organized a body of 
Turkish slaves, trained to arms from their youth, and these soldiers, 
the celebrated Mamelukes (from the Arabic matnluk, plural tnama- 
lik, "slave") formed the flower of the army and soon acquired a 
powerful influence. In 1250 the Bahree Mamelukes — so-called from 
their quarters in the island of Rodah in the Nile (Bahr) — who had 
composed the bodyguard of the Sultan Melik-es-Salih, aided Es- 
Salih's widow to seize the throne, and she strengthened her position 
by marrying the Ameer Eybek, the commander of her forces. Eybek 
was proclaimed under the title of El-Melik-el-Mo'izz, but was mur- 
dered seven years later, and in 1260 the Mameluke chief, Beybars, 
was chosen sultan by the ameers. The rule of the Bahree Mame- 
lukes lasted till 1382, when Barkuk, a Circassian slave, made him- 
self master of Egypt and founded the dynasty of the Burgee or 
Circassian Mamelukes. The reign of Barkuk is remarkable for the 
skill and energy with which he defended his dominions against the 
attacks of Timur and Bajazet. In 15 17 Tuman Bey, the last of the 
Mameluke sultans, was defeated after a heroic resistance by the 
Turks under Selim I. and Egypt ceased to be an independent king- 
dom, though for several centuries thereafter the Mameluke chiefs 
retained much of their former power. The government was com- 
mitted to a Turkish pasha assisted by a council of seven, and the 
country was divided into twenty-four military provinces under 
Mameluke beys, one of the latter holding the important post of 
Sheikh-el-Beled or Governor of the Metropolis. In course of time 
the beys, who commanded the militia and collected the taxes in their 



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EGYPT 87 

respective districts, absorbed all the real power, until little more 
than a nominal authority was left to the pasha, and the govern- 
ment became a military oligarchy. In 1768 Ali Bey, who had been 
Sheikh-el-Beled, threw off his allegiance to the Porte and made 
himself independent sovereign of Egypt, but he was expelled a 
few years later and, while endeavoring to regain his lost dominion, 
was captured and died by poison. 

In 1798 Napoleon Bonaparte invaded Egypt, took Alexandria 
by assault, and defeated the Mamelukes near the Pyramids. But 
his fleet was destroyed at Abukir by the English under Nelson 
and, though in the following year the French gained possession of 
Middle and Upper Egypt, they were compelled by an English army 
to evacuate the country in 1801. After the departure of the French 
troubles broke out between the Porte and the Mameluke beys, and 
a number of serious conflicts took place. The situation was com- 
plicated, in the spring of 1803, by the revolt of the Albanian 
troops in the Turkish service, who seized the citadel of Cairo and 
forced the pasha, Mohammed Khusruf, to flee from the city. Tahir 
Pasha, the commander of the Albanians, assumed the government, 
but was murdered three weeks later by some of his Turkish troops, 
and the leadership of the Albanian faction devolved upon Mehe- 
met Ali, whose rise to power dates from this time. This remark- 
able man was born in 1769 at Cavalla, a small town in Albania, 
and was sent to Egypt in 1800 to serve against the French as cap- 
tain of a company of infantry raised in his native place. At the 
beginning of the troubles with the Mamelukes he was promoted 
by Khusruf Pasha to the command of an Albanian corps, and his 
great ability and clever policy soon gained him a position of com- 
manding influence. As leader of the Albanian party he skillfully 
contrived to hold the balance of power and, in 1805, aided by the 
citizens of Cairo, with whom he was exceedingly popular, he expelled 
the tyrannical and oppressive Khursheed Pasha and made himself 
governor in his stead. His formal investiture in the office by the 
Porte followed immediately, but for some years his authority was 
disputed by the Mamelukes, who were encouraged by the expecta- 
tion of help from England. In March, 1807, a British force under 
General Fraser landed at Alexandria, but detachments of it sent to 
attack Rosetta were defeated and General Fraser, receiving no 
efficient cooperation from the Mameluke beys, was obliged to take 
his departure in September. 



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88 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

On March I, 1811, Mehemet All's favorite son, Tusum, was 
invested with the command of the army about to march against 
the Wahabees, a Mohammedan sect who had gained possession of 
the greater part of Arabia, and all the Mameluke beys then in 
Cairo were invited to the citadel to witness the ceremony. They 
accepted the invitation without suspicion and, on repairing to the 
citadel, were ruthlessly butchered to the number of 470 by the 
pasha's Albanian troops. At the same time orders had been sent 
out to all the local governors, and a general massacre of the Mame- 
lukes took place throughout Egypt. Having thus effectually crushed 
all opposition to his rule at home, Mehemet Ali, at the urgent com- 
mand of the Porte, dispatched his army against the Wahabees, 
and the war continued, with an interval of peace in 1815-1816, until 
1 8 19. Nubia, Sennaar, and Kordofan were next reduced, and 
in 1 82 1 and 1822. Mehemet Ali sent a large force to aid the Porte 
in suppressing the Greek insurrection, and he continued to take 
part in that struggle until 1828. In the meantime he had formed a 
new army of native Egyptian and Nubian troops, designed to 
replace the unruly Albanians, and in 1823 it amounted to 24,000 
men thoroughly trained by French officers. The defeat of Turkey 
in the war with Russia (1828- 1829) afforded Mehemet Ali a favor- 
able opportunity to gain his independence from the Porte, and in 
October, 1831, his army, under his son, Ibrahim Pasha, marched 
against Acre. In less than a year Syria was in the hands of the 
Egyptians, and Ibrahim's army was in Asia Minor, within six 
days' march of Constantinople, when his advance was checked by 
the intervention of the European powers, and a treaty was con- 
cluded (May 14, 1833) whereby Mehemet Ali secured the sov- 
ereignty of Syria as far as the Taurus Mountains. War broke out 
again in 1839, and, though Ibrahim crushed the Turkish army at 
Nisibin, between the Tigris and the Euphrates, the intervention of 
England in 1841 compelled Mehemet Ali to yield Syria and to ac- 
knowledge the suzerainty of the Porte. After this he occupied 
himself exclusively with internal affairs until 1848, when he de- 
veloped symptoms of mental disease, and his son, Ibrahim, was 
invested with the government, but died the same year. Mehemet 
Ali died on August 3, 1849, at his palace of Shubra near Cairo. The 
successor of Ibrahim was his nephew, Abbas I., son of Tusun, a 
bigoted Moslem, who was opposed to all European innovation. He 
died in 1854 and was succeeded by his uncle Said, the fourth son of 



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MASSACRE OF THE MAMELUKES 
Painting by A. Bida 



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A- , 

•Ml, , 



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EGYPT 39 

Mehemet AH, who pursued a totally different policy. He intro- 
duced important administrative reforms, abolished some of the 
oppressive government monopolies, encouraged the building of rail- 
roads, and granted the concession for the Suez Canal. Said died 
in 1863 and was succeeded by his nephew Ismail, son of Ibrahim, 
an able and energetic ruler whose European education had im- 
bued him with the spirit of progress. Under his administration 
railroads and telegraph lines were constructed, the postal service 
was placed upon a thoroughly efficient footing, the military schools 
founded by his grandfather were reorganized, and the Suez Canal, 
which he had done much to foster, was opened in 1869. One of 
the greatest reforms introduced by Ismail was the abolition of the 
old consular courts, and the introduction of mixed courts in which 
Europeans and native judges sit together to try all cases in which 
foreigners are concerned. In 1866 Ismail obtained from the Porte 
a firman conferring upon him the title of Khedive (viceroy) and 
regulating the succession on the principle of primogeniture; and in 
1872 another firman confirmed and extended his prerogatives in 
such way as to make him practically an independent sovereign. 
These concessions, however, were purchased at the cost of a large 
increase in the annual tribute paid by Egypt to the Porte, and the 
lavish expenditure of the Khedive for public works exhausted the 
resources of the country. Eventually the public debt grew to such 
enormous proportions that, through the pressure of the European 
powers, Ismail was forced to make over his large private estates 
and those of his family to the state, and to form a ministry with 
Nubar Pasha at its head and representatives of the powers as mem- 
bers. In 1879 the Khedive formed a new ministry containing no 
Europeans, but was promptly deposed by the powers, and his son, 
Tewfik, was placed upon the vice-regal throne. . The debt was 
adjusted and the financial affairs of the country were gradually 
improving when, in 188 1, a military revolution broke out at Cairo, 
headed by Arabi Bey, a colonel in the army, having for its chief 
object the overthrow of European influence in Egypt. The insur- 
gents demanded the increase of the army to its normal strength, the 
dismissal of the prime minister, Riaz Pasha, and the convocation 
of a Chamber of Notables, or national parliament, to assume the 
government of the people as a representative body. The Khedive, 
besieged in his palace by the insurgents, was forced to yield to their 
demands; the Chamber of Notables was summoned and met at 



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40 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

Cairo before the end of the year; and in February, 1882, Arabi 
Bey was taken into the Cabinet as Assistant Minister of War. The 
new ministry then proceeded to pass measures designed to abro- 
gate European influence in the political and financial administration 
of Egypt, but the Khedive, relying upon the support of England 
and France, made a firm stand against these measures. In May 
a French and English fleet appeared before Alexandria, where in 
the middle of June riots broke out and many Europeans were killed 
and wounded. On July 11 and 12 Alexandria was bombarded by 
the English ships, and on September 13 Arabi Bey was defeated and 
captured at Tell-el-Kebir by General Wolseley, and was subsequently 
exiled to Ceylon. Since then British influence has been paramount 
in Egypt. 

In 1883 an uprising of the Nubian tribes, under a fanatical 
leader styled the Mahdi, overthrew the Khedive's authority in the 
Soudan, and the Egyptian troops, under Hicks Pasha and Baker 
Pasha, sent against the insurgents, were defeated. Early in the 
following year General Gordon was sent to the Soudan by the Brit- 
ish Government, but was not given adequate support and was 
besieged in Khartoum by the rebels. An army under General Wolse- 
ley was dispatched to his relief, but arrived too late ; Khartoum had 
fallen on January 26, 1885, and General Gordon was slain. For 
some years after this Nubia was left to itself until, in 1894, General 
Kitchener began a series of campaigns resulting in the reestablish- 
ment of the authority of the government in the Egyptian Soudan, 
his final triumph being the battle of Omdurman, fought on Septem- 
ber 2, 1898. The Khedive Tewfik died January 7, 1892, and was 
succeeded by his eldest son, Abbas II., the present Khedive, an 
able and enlightened ruler. 



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Chapter III 

RELIGION AND MYTHOLOGY 

THE exact character of Egyptian religion has been much 
disputed and has called forth a number of conflicting 
theories. According to De Rouge, it was essentially 
monotheistic ; other scholars see in it a pure pantheism ; while 
Renouf makes it what has been termed henotheistic. The difficulty 
lies in the fact that, throughout their long history, the ancient 
Egyptians never developed their religious ideas into a uniform and 
homogeneous system. With characteristic conservatism they re- 
tained the crude beliefs of a primitive period side by side with the 
more refined and spiritual conceptions of a later day; and the re- 
sulting confusion did not disturb them at all. The efforts of the 
theological schools to reduce this chaos to some show of order met 
with little success; the mass of the people were content to go on 
believing and worshiping as their fathers had done before them. 
The explanation of the strangely composite character of the 
Egyptian religion must be sought far back in the predynastic 
period. Originally every locality had its protecting deity, whose 
functions and attributes were adapted to the practical needs of the 
community by whom he was revered. Thus, the deity of an agri- 
cultural community was the guardian of the fields and the giver 
of bounteous harvests, while the god of a manufacturing town was 
primarily the great master craftsman. Very commonly, how- 
ever, these local divinities were connected with the heavenly bodies ; 
a very considerable proportion of them, like Atum of Heliopolis 
and Horos of Edfu, were solar deities, while others, like Thoth of 
Khmunu (Hermopolis) were lunar gods. When, in course of 
time, a city rose to the position of capital of a district, its god ac- 
quired a corresponding increase in importance and became the 
chief god of the nome, while the remaining deities of the district 
assumed a position of dependence and were associated with him as 
his family or his attendants. In this way every great city had its 
circle of gods, whose number varied with the local conditions that 

41 



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48 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

grouped them together. In Heliopolis the "circle" consisted of 
nine gods, and this number, through imitation by other Egyptian 
cities, gave rise to the later system of enneads. With the consoli- 
dation of the nomes into a single monarchy the god of the ruling 
dynasty gained preponderance over other deities, and in this way 
a state religion was established. At the head of the national pan- 
theon stood the Sun-god Ra, whose rise to this commanding posi- 
tion was due to the influence of the powerful priesthood of Heli- 
opolis, the great center of solar worship. In course of time, through 
the uniforming tendency of the theological schools, all the local sun 
gods came to be regarded as forms of Ra, and not a few deities 
were thus identified who originally possessed no solar character at 
all. Usually the local divinities were held to represent special 
phases of Ra; thus, Osiris of Abydos and Busiris and Atum of 
Heliopolis were the evening sun, while Khepera and Harmakhis 
were the morning sun. The same process of identification went 
on in other directions. Sechmet of Memphis, Bastet of Bubastis, 
and Mut of Thebes were all identified with the goddess Hathor of 
Denderah, and finally Hathor herself came to be identified with 
Isis. Throughout all these developments the mass of the people 
continued to worship their local gods with uninterrupted devotion. 
To them the state religion was more or less an abstraction; it was 
the local god whose wrath was to be appeased and his favor gained 
by prayer and offering. Around every shrine and temple clustered 
a cycle of myths and, whenever through various special causes a 
local cult acquired popularity in the land, the myths connected with 
it were widely circulated. 

One of the oldest and most widespread of these myths was 
that embodied in the legend of Osiris. The Sun-god Osiris, like 
his sister Isis, was the child of Nut, the vault of heaven, and of 
Seb, the earth. While still in their mother's womb they produced 
the ever-youthful Horos, who is one with his father, and yet a 
different divinity. Set or Typhon, the husband of his sister 
Nephthys, and brother of Horos, imprisoned the Sun-god in an 
ark or chest, which, with the help of seventy-two of his fol- 
lowers (the seventy-two days of summer drought), he flung into 
the sacred Nile. The ark was borne across the sea to the holy city 
of Phoenicia, Byblos or Gebal, and there found by the disconsolate 
Isis. Isis, however, after hiding the corpse of the god, made her 
way to Horos, who had been hidden in the marshes of Buto, and 



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EGYPT 48 

during her absence Set discovered the body of Osiris, which he 
cut into fourteen pieces and scattered to the winds. They were 
again carefully collected by Isis and buried, while Horos made 
ready to avenge his father's death. Osiris, meantime, lived again 
in the dark regions of the under world, and became the judge and 
monarch of the dead. The struggle between Horos and Set was 
long and fierce; but at length the god of light triumphed, and Set, 
the symbol of night and evil, was driven from his throne in the 
upper world. Horos became the mediator and saviour of mankind, 
through whom the righteous dead are justified before the tribunal 
of his father. 

In the philosophic system of the priesthood, Nun or Chaos 
was the first cause from which all proceed — unshaped, eternal, and 
immutable matter. Kheper, the scarabaeus with the sun's disk, was 
the creative principle of life which implanted in matter the seeds 
of life and light Ptah, the " opener," was the personal creator or 
demiurge, who, along with the seven Khnumu or architects, gave 
form to these seeds, and was at once the creator and opener of the 
primeval egg of the universe — the ball of earth rolled along by 
Kheper — out of which came the sun and moon according to the 
older myth, the elements and forms of heaven and earth according 
to the later philosophy. Nut, the sky, with the stars and the boat 
of the sun upon her back; Seb, the earth, the symbol of time and 
eternity; and Amenti or Hades, now took their several shapes and 
places. Over this threefold world the gods and other divine beings 
presided. 

It would be wearisome to recount more than a few of the 
principal divinities. Ptah, with his wife Sekhet, the cat-headed 
goddess of Bubastis, and his son Imhotep, or iEsculapius, comes 
first He is represented with the body of a mummy and the sym- 
bols of power, life, or stability in his hands. It was to him that 
the bull Hapi or Apis, the representative of the creative powers of 
nature and the fertilizing waters of the Nile, was sacred. Next to 
Ptah stands Ra, the Sun-god of Heliopolis, worshiped under 
seventy-five forms, and called the king of gods and men. Into 
his hands Ptah had delivered the germs of creation, and, like Ptah, 
he had existed in the womb of Nu. Here he first appeared as Turn, 
the setting sun; then, as he passed in his boat over the waters of 
the lower world and the folds of the serpent Apepi during the 
night, he was known as Khnum; while it is as Harmakhis (Hor- 



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44 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

em-khuti), whose symbol is the sphinx, that he rises again from 
death and sleep each morning on the bud of the lotus flower that 
floats on the breast of Nu. This daily birth was held to take place 
in the bosom of Isis, Mut, or Hathor. Ra is represented with the 
head of his sacred bird, the hawk, and the solar disk surmounted 
by the uraeus above; and the mystical Phcenix (bennu), which 
brings the ashes of its former self to Heliopolis every five hundred 
years, seems also to have been his symbol. When worshiped as 
Turn (or Atum), he has a man's head, with the combined crowns 
of Upper and Lower Egypt, though as Nofer-Tum he wears a 
lion's head, above which stands a hawk with a lotus crown. The 
name of Khnum (Khnubis or Knuphis) was originally derived 
from the local cult of Elephantine, but came to be applied to Ra 
when regarded as passing from one day to another after his de- 
scent to the infernal world. His old attributes remained attached 
to him, so that he sometimes takes the place of Ptah, being repre- 
sented as molding the egg of the universe, and fashioning man- 
kind. He has a ram's head, and the symbols connected with him 
show that his primitive worshipers regarded him as presiding over 
generation. Horos, symbolized now by the winged solar disk, now 
by a hawk-headed man, now by the hawk bearing a scourge, now 
again by a child on a lotus flower, merges in the days of the united 
monarchy into Harendotes, the avenger of Osiris. 

But after the rise of the Theban dynasty the supreme form 
under which Ra was worshiped was Amon, a name of unknown 
meaning. In course of time he absorbed into himself almost all the 
other deities of Egypt, more especially Ra and Khnum. He reigns 
over this earth as his representatives, the Pharaohs, over Egypt, 
and inspires mankind with the sense of right. He is called Khem 
as the self-begetting deity, "the living Osiris" as the animating 
principle of the universe. On his head he wears a lofty crown of 
feathers, sometimes replaced by the crowns of Upper and Lower 
Egypt or the ram's head of Khnum, and Mut and Khonsu form 
with him the trinity of Thebes. Ma't, the goddess of truth and 
justice, was the daughter of the Sun-god, who carries on her head 
the upright ostrich feather, and has her eyes covered with a 
bandage. Beside her stands Isis, at once the sister and wife of 
Osiris, and the mother of Horos. She is frequently depicted with 
the head or horns of her sacred animal, the cow, but in later times 
she more commonly appears as the divine mother, holding the in- 



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EGYPT 45 

fant Horos to her breast. The worship of Isis was very popular 
in Egypt, and ultimately spread to Asia Minor, Greece, and Rome. 
On the island of Philae she continued to be revered as late as 453 
a. d., long after paganism had been suppressed in other parts of 
Egypt. 

Against her stands Set or Typhon, primarily the night, into 
whose character and attributes a moral meaning was gradually 
read, so that in the time of the New Empire he became the repre- 
sentative of evil, the enemy of the bright powers of light and good- 
ness, the prince of the powers of darkness. The crocodile was 
sacred to him, though Sebek, the Crocodile-god, continued to be 
worshiped in the Fayum and the neighborhood of Kom-Ombos up 
to the classical period. Apepi also, the serpent of night, was asso- 
ciated with him, and came to partake of his demoniac character. 
His wife Nephthys, the queen of the lower world, was the nurse 
of Horos and the sympathizing sister of Isis. Her son, by Osiris, 
was the jackal-headed Anubis, " the master of Hades," who, like 
the Greek Hermes, guides the dead to the shades below. 

But it was with Tehuti or Thoth that the Greeks preferred to 
identify their Hermes. Originally the god of the moon, like 
Khonsu, the ibis-headed Thoth, with his consort Safekht, became 
the inventor of writing, the regulator of time and numbers, and the 
patron of science and literature. The cynocephalous ape and the 
ibis were his sacred animals. 

These animal forms, in which a later myth saw the shapes 
assumed by the affrighted gods during the great war between 
Horos and Typhon, take us back to a remote prehistoric age, when 
the religious creed of Egypt was still totemism. They are sur- 
vivals from a long-forgotten past, and prove that Egyptian civil- 
ization was of slow and independent growth, the latest stage only 
of which is revealed to us by the monuments. Apis of Memphis, 
Mnevis of Heliopolis, and Bakis of Hermonthis, are all links that 
bind together the Egypt of the Pharaohs and the Egypt of the 
stone age. They were the sacred animals of the clans which first 
settled in these localities, and their identification with the deities 
of the official religion must have been a slow process, never fully 
carried out, in fact, in the minds of the lower classes. 

Another conception which the primitive Egyptians shared 
with most other barbarous or semi-barbarous tribes was the mag- 
ical virtue of names. This also survived into the historical epoch, 



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46 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

and, in union with the later spirit of personal ambition, produced 
an absorbing passion for preserving the name of the individual 
after death. His continued existence was imagined to depend upon 
the continued remembrance of his name. The Egyptian belief in 
the immortality of the soul and the resurrection of the body thus 
had its root in the old childlike superstition which confused to- 
gether words and things. In the philosophical system of the 
priesthood, however, it was given a new and more rational form. 
According to this, man consists of three parts: the khat or body, 
which belongs to matter; the ba or soul, which ultimately returns 
to its home in the lower world ; and the khu or spirit, an emanation 
from the divine essence. Each of these parts can exist separately, 
and each is eternal and immutable. But it is the soul which receives 
after death the rewards or punishments due to it for its thoughts 
and actions while in the body. If the soul had triumphed over the 
bodily passions — had been pious toward the gods, and righteous 
toward men — it passed in safety through all the trials that awaited 
it below. Fortified by sacred texts and hymns and amulets, and 
trusting in Horos the mediator, it subdued the demons and horrible 
beasts that opposed its way, and at length reached the hall of 
justice where Osiris with his forty-two assessors sat as judge. 
Horos and Anubis now weighed the soul in its vase against the 
goddess of truth, and Thoth recorded the result. If the soul went 
down, it was sentenced to the various torments of hell, or to wan- 
der like a vampire between heaven and earth, scourged and buffeted 
by the tempests, or else doomed to transmigrate into the bodies of 
animals, until permitted to regain its original body and undergo 
a fresh trial ; there were cases even in which it might be annihilated. 
If, on the other hand, the soul remained evenly balanced, it was 
allowed to enter the blissful fields of Aalu, there to be purified from 
all the stains of its early life, and after becoming perfect in wisdom 
and knowledge, to be absorbed into the divine essence, or to live 
again upon earth in any form it chose. At times it would enter the 
body and reanimate it, and for this purpose every care had to be 
taken lest the body should decay or become injured. In addition 
to the soul, every individual had a sort of spiritual double known 
as the Ka, that seems to have acted as his protecting genius. It 
was born with him, was his inseparable companion during life, and 
after death hovered around his mortal remains. 

Our knowledge of Egyptian mythology as distinct from 



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EGYPT 47 

Egyptian religion is still but scanty. Mention has already been 
made of the Osiris myth, which entered so largely into the religious 
faith of the people. There was another legend which told how 
mankind had emanated from the eyes of the deity, and spread 
themselves over the earth as "the flock of Ra," the Romet, or 
Egyptians, and Nahsi, or negroes, being under the guardianship 
of Horos; the Amu, or Semites, and the white-skinned population 
of Libya and the north, being under that of Sekhet. According to 
another version, however, mankind, with the exception of the 
negroes, had sprung from the tears of Horos and Sekhet. Another 
myth, again, discovered by Naville in the tomb of Seti L, states that 
mankind once rebelled against their sovereign ruler Ra, who took 
counsel with Nun. Hathor or Sekhet, accordingly, was sent to 
slay them, and the earth was covered with their blood as far as 
Herakleopolis. Then Ra was horrified at the sight and, repenting 
the slaughter he had caused, determined to save a remnant of man- 
kind. In the night he caused seven thousand jars of beer to be 
prepared, mingled with an intoxicating herb, and poured it out 
upon the fields. When the goddess came in the morning to com- 
plete her work of destruction, she found the beer and, drinking 
copiously of it, became drunk and took no further cognizance of 
men. Mankind was thus saved from total destruction, but Ra had 
become weary of ruling the earth and retired to rest in heaven upon 
the back of the celestial cow. First, however, he created the 
Elysian fields of Aalu and the stars, charging the sacred cow, the 
incarnation of Nut, with their guardianship ; while Shu, like Atlas, 
supports her on his two hands. Seb was then ordered to keep 
watch over the reptiles of earth and water, and Thoth over the 
lower world; the ibis, the cynocephalous ape, and the lunar disk 
coming into existence at the same time. 

Though it is difficult to trace much change or development in 
the religion of Egypt during the historical period as opposed to the 
prehistoric one, it is nevertheless plain that as time went on it as- 
sumed a more mythical and esoteric character, which shows itself 
most conspicuously in the monuments of the Ptolemaic and Roman 
age. It was from this theosophic phase that the Neo-Platonism of 
Alexandria and Neo-Platonic Christianity derived a large part of 
their ideas and principles. At the same time monotheism, or rather 
pantheism, became more clearly defined among the educated 
classes, the popular gods being resolved into mystical manifesta- 



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48 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

tions or emanations of the one divine substance. This tendency, 
in fact, existed in very early times and found its logical expression 
in the attempted reform of Amenophis IV., but the total failure of 
Amenophis's efforts proves how little hold the idea of monotheism 
had upon the Egyptian people. A further change may be observed 
in the conception of the future life between the monuments of the 
Old Empire and those of the Middle and New Empires. The sad- 
ness and gloom that overshadow the latter had not yet been felt. 
The tomb of Ti at Sakkarah, for instance, presents us with pictures 
of the after world, in which the dead man lives over again his life 
in this; he farms, hunts, superintends his workmen and slaves, and 
feasts, just as he had done on earth. The shadow of the grave was 
not yet ever before the eyes of the Egyptian, and though he built 
tombs for himself while still alive, they mostly took the shape of 
pyramids, raised on the ground and pointed to the sky, not of dark 
and gloomy subterranean chambers. We should look in vain in 
them for those representations of the torments and trials which 
await the dead below, of the headless souls and horrible coils of 
the monstrous serpent Apepi, that startle us on the pictured walls 
of the royal tombs at Thebes. The myth of Osiris had not yet 
begun to exercise the terrible influence it afterward obtained over 
the imagination of the people, and the Book of the Dead still con- 
sisted of only a few simple chapters. 

The apotheosis of the Roman emperors had been long antici- 
pated in Egypt. The kings were representatives and, in a political 
sense, incarnations of the deity; divine worship was offered to 
them, and priests were attached to their cult. The cult of the most 
powerful of the kings lasted for centuries, or after being discon- 
tinued was sometimes revived for dynastic and other reasons. 
Thus the cult of Send of the second dynasty, and Sahura of the 
fifth, lasted into the age of the Ptolemies ; that of Menes, of Zoser 
(of the third dynasty), of Kheops, Khephren, Ra-tatf, Snefru, 
and Ramses II. down to the time of the Persian conquest ; that of 
Usertesen III., to the reign of the Thothmes III. ; though the pyra- 
mid builders seem to have been forgotten in the epoch of the 
twelfth and thirteenth dynasties. 

The priesthood was divided into several classes; the high- 
priest of Amon and his associates ranking at their head, at all 
events under the New Empire. Next to these priests came the 
four orders of prophets, out of whom the ministers of the worship 



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EGYPT 49 

of the deceased kings were chosen ; and below them again the webu, 
or divine fathers. Sacred scribes were attached to the temples, as 
well as servants and slaves. Monks, too, lived in cells in the pre- 
cincts. Besides the priests and prophets there were also priestesses 
and prophetesses; and women of the highest rank were proud to 
be the prophetesses, the singing women, and the sistrum players of 
Amon. The priests and their families were supported out of the 
revenues of the temple to which they belonged, and so formed a 
corporation ; and all matters relating to religion and public worship 
were under their control. The embalmers were an inferior order 
of priests. 



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Chapter IV 

ARTS AND GENERAL CULTURE 

EGYPTIAN art falls into two broadly marked periods. The 
art of the Old Empire is realistic, vigorous, and full of 
originative genius; that of later times, stiff, conven- 
tional, and hieratic. Art is at its best in the age of the pyramid 
builders; its future history is a history of continuous decline. 
Those who have not seen the diorite statue of Khephren or the 
wooden statue of the " Skeikh-el-Beled " in the Bulak Museum, or 
the exquisitely painted bas-reliefs of the tomb of Ti, have no con- 
ception of what Egyptian art once was. The colossal productions 
of the Middle and New Empires hardly make up by grandness of 
design for the want of artistic originality* Spontaneousness and 
faithfulness to nature were but ill-replaced by mysticism and sym- 
bolism. 

Fluted columns with sixteen sides, which bear a close general 
resemblance to the Doric column (though wanting the echinus that 
distinguished the latter), first meet us in the tombs of Beni-Hassan 
and Siut, and thus make their appearance as soon as the pyramid 
was superseded by the rock-cut tomb. Columns in the shape of 
four lotus stalks bound together, their blossoms forming the capi- 
tal, also occur along with them, and introduce a series of columnar 
architecture, which reaches its final perfection in the papyrus and 
palm-crowned pillars of Edfu and Esneh. The most peculiar and 
unpleasing feature of these columns is the square box on the top 
of the capitals. In the Ptolemaic age the shaft often terminates in 
a square adorned with four masks of Hathor, above which is a 
miniature temple facade. From the time of the eighteenth dynasty 
downwards the shaft of the column is frequently replaced by the 
figure of Osiris, with the arms crossed over the breast 

The Mastabas or mortuary chapels of the Old Empire, several 
of which may still be seen adjoining the pyramids of Gizeh, were 
replaced in later days by sumptuous temples, of which the Mem- 
nonium at Thebes may be taken as an example. These temples 

60 



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EGYPT 51 

were built after the model of those raised to the gods by the mon- 
archs of the Middle Empire, since we know of none that belong 
to the age of the Old Empire. They were intended, not for 
religious service, but for processions, and were jealously protected 
from the eyes of the profanum vulgus. Hence the lofty shrines 
of stone with which they were surrounded; hence, too, the fact 
that walls and columns and ceilings were covered with sculptures 
and paintings that could not be seen until light was introduced into 
them by the ruin of the buildings themselves. Even the secret 
passages at Denderah are decorated with carefully executed bas- 
reliefs. Since the temples were used as fortresses, as well as for 
sacred purposes — a fact which will explain the ruined condition of 
many of them — they were guarded at the entrance by two pylons 
or towers, where the temple watchmen lived. Before the pylons 
standards were planted, and between them was the entrance 
through which the procession passed into court after court, cham- 
ber after chamber, until the shrine itself was at last reached. Here 
stood the images of the gods. In the rock-cut temples of Nubia 
the Theban Trinity is hewn out of the stone, with the king himself 
seated in its midst. 

The surface of the stone was covered throughout with bas- 
reliefs and brilliant paintings. In the latter art the Egyptians 
excelled from the earliest period. But they ostentatiously disre- 
garded the most elementary rules of perspective, however, under 
the influence of the hieratic canon, though such objects as flow- 
ers, animals, fish, and butterflies were produced with pre-Raphaelite 
fidelity. 

The Egyptians were skillful artificers. Their chairs, couches, 
and other articles of household furniture display great taste and 
variety, and their work in the precious metals and gems is of the 
highest order. Porcelain and glass are among their earliest pro- 
ductions, and they were acquainted with the art of soldering 
metals, including iron — which shows that Herodotos (i. 25) was 
wrong in ascribing the discovery of this art to Glaukos — as far 
back at least as the eighteenth dynasty. Imbrication, or the art of 
laying plates of metal one upon the other, was also known to them, 
as well as the art of damaskeening. 

Art in Egypt, as elsewhere, attained an earlier development 
than science. At the same time the monuments left by Egyptian 
art imply a considerable knowledge of mechanics, geometry, and 



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52 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

engineering. The Great Pyramid faces the four points of the com- 
pass with marvelous exactitude, and the obelisk of Queen Hatasu 
at Karnak, the tallest in the world, was cut out of the granite quar- 
ries of Assuan, engraved, polished, floated down the Nile, and set 
up in its place, in seven months! Professor Eisenlohr has discov- 
ered that mathematics were studied at the court of the Hyksos 
princes, as the Rhind Papyri contain a mathematical work (written 
for Apepi I.) which may be described as a treatise on applied 
arithmetic. 

Astronomy of a somewhat elementary character was culti- 
vated for the sake of the calendar. The year was divided into 
twelve months of thirty days, to which at a very early period were 
added five more; but as in this way a whole day was lost every 
four years, recourse was had to the famous Sothic cycle, deter- 
mined by the heliacal rising of Sopt or Sothis, the Dog-star, on 
the first of Thoth, July 28, once in 1460 years, when the year re- 
turned to its normal condition, and the inundation of the Nile 
commenced on the Egyptian New Year's Day. The end of one 
Sothic cycle fell in 139 a. d., and the festival which commemorated 
the rising of Sothis was ascribed to the mythical days of the 
Shemsu-Hor. The planets were distinguished from the fixed stars, 
and the sun was believed to wander through the heavens like the 
planets. It may be added that the month was divided into three 
decades, as among the Greeks and early Latins (cp. the nundina), 
each day being further divided into twelve hours, as in Chaldea. 

The healing art was cultivated in Egypt at a very early day. 
According to Manetho, the successor of Menes wrote treatises on 
anatomy, and a medical work mentioned in the Berlin Papyrus is 
said to have been first composed in the reign of a predecessor of 
King Send of the second dynasty. Such statements, however, are 
due to the Egyptian fancy for antedating literary productions, and 
the oldest medical papyrus we possess does not mount back beyond 
the twelfth dynasty. The great Papyrus Ebers, which dates from 
the eighteenth dynasty, forms the principal source of our knowl- 
edge of Egyptian medicine. From this work it would seem that 
the various diseases known were carefully distinguished from one 
another, and their symptoms were minutely described, as well as 
their treatment. The prescriptions recommended in each case are 
made out in precisely the same way as the prescriptions of a mod- 
ern doctor. One of these is said to have been derived from a 



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EGYPT 53 

Semitic oculist of Byblos, but the greater part belonged to earlier 
Egyptian medical men, some of whom flourished under the first 
dynasties. The medicines used were of four kinds — draughts, 
blisters, powders, and clysters, minerals as well as vegetables being 
employed in their composition. Some of the ingredients in 
Egyptian medical prescriptions are repulsive in the extreme. In 
spite of their familiarity with the process of embalming, the 
Egyptians seem to have possessed little knowledge of anatomy, 
and Sir E. Wilson disputes the statement that mummies have 
been found with their teeth stopped with gold, while some have 
been found with broken bones grown together naturally. In 
fact, the anatomical theory of the Egyptians is sufficient to 
show that anatomy was still in its infancy. According to this 
the breath is drawn from the breast to the head, through thirty- 
two channels or veins, and then transmitted to the limbs. At 
all times magic played an important part in Egyptian medicine. 
No prescription was effective unless the proper charm was recited 
when it was compounded, and when it was administered as well, 
and magical formulae and exorcisms for the relief of sickness are 
frequently met with in the Egyptian papyri. A demotic papyrus 
at Leyden is almost wholly occupied with charms, especially love 
philters. 

Egyptian literature embraced the whole circle of the knowl- 
edge of the time. Writing was as old as the united monarchy, and 
the son of Menes was believed to have been an author. But of 
this literature only a few papyri, and still fewer texts engraved on 
stone, like the poem of Pentaur, have come down to us, the papyri 
being written in hieratic and demotic. The most ancient we pos- 
sess is the " Papyrus Prisse," dating from the twelfth dynasty, and 
containing two ethical treatises, one by the sage Kagemna, who 
lived in the reign of Snefru, the other by Ptah-hotep, the contem- 
porary of King Assa of the fifth dynasty. Both treatises are col- 
lections of homely, practical wisdom, resembling the Book of 
Proverbs, or the writings of Confucius. Equanimity, honesty, 
benevolence, and prudence are inculcated, and the husband is told : 
"Love thy wife and cherish her as long as thou livest; be not a 
tyrant; flattery acts upon her better than rudeness." " If thou art 
wise," says Ptah-hotep again, " bring up thy son to fear God. If 
he obey thee, walking in thy steps, and caring for thy goods as he 
ought, then show him all favor. Yet thy foolish son is also thine 



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54 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

own offspring; estrange not thine heart from him, but admonish 
him." Ptah-hotep lived to the ripe age of no years, and though 
he begins by enumerating all the miseries of old age, like the writer 
of Ecclesiastes, he finds in the wisdom and experience it brings 
more than compensation. 

The chief monument of the religious literature of Egypt is 
the Book of the Dead, in 186 chapters, of which the recension 
current under the New Empire (eighteenth to twentieth dynasties) 
was critically edited, in 1886, by Naville. Portions of it were 
inscribed on the mummy cases and tombs, and are met with in the 
latest of the demotic papyri. It consists, essentially, of a collection 
of magical formulae designed to protect the deceased from the 
trials and dangers of the lower world and to ensure his triumph in 
the final judgment. Two versions of the sixty-fourth chapter are 
found on a coffin of the eleventh dynasty, and, according to 
the rubrics, one of these dates from the time of Men-ka-ra of the 
fourth dynasty, while the other is said to have been " discovered " 
in the reign of Hesepti, a king of the first dynasty. But only the 
essence of the work went back to the Old Empire. The rest con- 
sisted of additions and glosses, and glosses of glosses, which con- 
tinued to be made up to the time of the Persians. Until the time 
of the twenty-sixth dynasty no attempt was made to arrange the 
chapters in a definite order. Besides the Book of the Dead may be 
quoted the Litanies to the Sun-god, which are full of deep spiritual 
feeling, and are monotheistic in tone. Magical works are plentiful, 
but they mostly belong to the closing days of the kingdom. With 
these may be coupled the popular tales and romances, such as " The 
Tale of the Two Brothers," written under the nineteenth dynasty, 
and bearing some resemblance to the history of Joseph, or the story 
of Setna, which turns on the magical powers of the Book of Thoth, 
or the legend of the cure of Bent-resh, the daughter of the Prince 
of Bakhten and sister-in-law of Ramses XII. A document at Ley- 
den contains an exorcism by the help of which a husband sought 
to rid himself of the visits of his wife's ghost. Correspondence 
also occupies a considerable place in Egyptian literature. We have 
copies of private letters, like that of " The Sotem Mersuatef to his 
mistress, the priestess of Isis, Tanur," of public and royal corre- 
spondence, and of collections similar to Lord Chesterfield's letters 
or the " Complete Letter-writer." Among these is a letter in which 
the scribe contrasts the pursuit of literature with other trades and 



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EGYPT 55 

professions, very much to the disadvantage of the latter. The 
account of the Mohar's travels in Syria and Palestine, where he 
visited Aleppo and insular Tyre among other places, and describes 
his sufferings at the hands of robbers, in the time of the nineteenth 
dynasty, may also be included under this head. So, too, may the 
autobiography of Saneha, who fled from Egypt for political 
reasons, and, after slaying a sort of Goliah, obtained wealth and 
power in the court of Ammuenshi, king of Upper Tennu, the later 
Edom. The desire of seeing his native land again came upon 
him in his old age, and he obtained permission from Usertesen 
I. to return home. Perhaps, however, this latter work should 
more fitly be classed, as it is by Maspero, among the historical 
romances of the Egyptians, like the story of the capture of 
Joppa by Thutii, the general of Thothmes III., which bears a 
striking resemblance to the tale of Ali-Baba in the "Arabian 
Nights." Closely connected with the epistolary branch of 
Egyptian literature are the papyri, which contain memoranda or 
accounts, as well as the official documents kept by the royal scribes. 
Among these are accounts which show that provision was made 
for the support of sick laborers. Tribute lists and geographical 
catalogues are perhaps the most important of this class of docu- 
ments, though the mutilated Turin Papyrus, with its chronological 
table of Egyptian kings, has a still higher value. Judicial records, 
again, are not rare. One record describes the trial of certain con- 
spirators against the life of Ramses III., with the punishments 
allotted to them. From others we learn that commissioners might 
be appointed to investigate charges afterward brought before the 
judges in court, that the evidence was taken down in writing, and 
that even cases between master and slave had to come before the 
judge. Petitions were presented directly to the king. Egyptian law 
was mild ; torture seems to have been unknown, and mutilations ex- 
ceptional. Even the punishment of death was rare, and usually 
took the form of decapitation or compulsory suicide. It is notice- 
able that the artist who had portrayed the naval victory of Ramses 
III. at Medinet Abu has depicted a number of the triumphant 
Egyptians attempting to rescue the sinking crew of an enemy's 
ship-— an act of humanity unparalleled among the other na- 
tions of the ancient world. The treaty between Ramses II. 
and the Hittites gives us an insight into the international law of 
the time. 



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56 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

As in most despotic countries, satirical writing and beast-fables 
were employed ; indeed, Professor Mahaffy suggests that the beast- 
fable owes its origin to Africa. One of the caricatures in the 
satirical papyrus of Turin represents Ramses III. with a lion's 
head, playing draughts (a game of which he seems to have been 
very fond) with one of his harem, who is transformed into a 
gazelle. 

Poetry, apart from the religious hymns, was much cultivated. 
The so-called Epic of Pentaur, which celebrates the exploits of 
Ramses II., has been compared with the Iliad, though it resembles 
the Greek poem only in general character, since it never became 
popular and owes its preservation to the vanity of the king whose 
imaginary deeds it records, and who, like Akhilles, is made to 
address his horses by their names. It was formerly believed to 
have been composed by the scribe Pentaur, the private secretary of 
the royal librarian, Ainenemen, who, in a letter preserved in the 
Sallier Papyrus I., scolds him for not having sent the provisions 
of the season to the palace, but it is now known that Pentaur was 
merely the copyist of the manuscript in which the poem has come 
down to us. But epics and religious hymns were not the only 
forms in which Egyptian poetry clothed itself. A long poem 
on the praise of learning, probably composed in the time of the 
twelfth dynasty, is found in the Sallier Papyrus II.; the ode to 
the Nile is secular rather than religious; and the lyrics con- 
tained in the Anastasi Papyri are of great beauty. Egyptian 
poetry was simple in structure, and chiefly depended, like Hebrew 
poetry, upon the parallelism of ideas ; but Ebers has shown that it 
also made considerable use of alliteration. 

Historical literature is unfortunately rare, if we except such 
documents as the Harris Papyrus, the largest papyrus known, which 
gives the history of Ramses III. For the annals of the kings we 
must rather look to the walls of the temples and the tombs, or to 
the stelae and similar monuments. It is seldom that we come 
across so straightforward an inscription as that of Piankhi, or 
one that is so free from interminable titles, and Piankhi was an 
Ethiopian. 

Egyptian writing was a system of survivals. It was at once 
ideographic, syllabic, and alphabetic. The older phases through 
which it passed were preserved along with those which, in a less 
conservative country, would have superseded it. The oldest writ- 



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The Rosetta Stone, which its inscription shows was erected March 27, B.C. 
196, in honor of Ptolemy Epiphanes, is important as furnishing the first clue to the 
riddle of Egyptian writing. The inscription at the top in hieroglyphics is repeated 
in demotic characters and again in Greek at the base. The stone, a fragment of 
black basalt, 3 feet 9 inches high, 2 feet 4 1-2 inches wide and 11 inches in thick- 
ness, was discovered in 1799 m ruins at the Rosetta mouth of the Delta and was 
conveyed to the British Museum. Dr. Thomas Young in 18 19 and Jean Francois 
Champollion in 1 822-1 824 made the first steps toward interpreting the inscription, — 
the first practical advance toward deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphics in general. 

The language of the hieroglyphics was discarded when Egypt became a Roman 
province and thus for nearly two thousand years the meaning of the Egyptian 
inscriptions remained a mystery. 



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EGYPT 57 

ten monuments we possess exhibit it already formed and com- 
plete. Its invention must, therefore, long precede the age of 
Menes. The characters are pictorial, primarily representing ob- 
jects and ideas, while some are used as determinatives. Each 
character also denotes one or more syllables, and several further 
represent the single letters with which the words symbolized by 
them begin. For the sake of clearness the same word may be ex- 
pressed ideographically (by a pictorial hieroglyph), syllabically, 
and alphabetically, all at once. Before the time of the Middle 
Empire, and probably as early as the first dynasty, a "hieratic" 
running hand had been formed out of the hieroglyphics, and in the 
ninth century b. c. this became the " demotic " hand, the characters 
of which are still more unlike the original forms from which they 
were derived than those of the hieratic papyri. Hieratic is always 
written from right to left, whereas the hieroglyphics may run in- 
differently from left to right, or from right to left. 

The Egyptian language is related on the one hand to the 
so-called Hamitic dialects of northern Africa, while on the other 
hand it bears an unmistakable relationship to the languages of the 
Semitic group. It is simple in structure, and inflectional in form, 
marking the relations of words by suffixes and composition. It is 
already an old language when we first meet with it on the monu- 
ments, and it changed considerably during the course of Egyp- 
tian history. The language of the Old or Middle Empire would 
have been unintelligible to the ordinary Egyptian of the time of 
Herodotos. In the complicated system of writing employed by the 
ancient Egyptians only the consonants are expressed, and there is 
no guide to the vocalization and pronunciation of the language 
except Coptic, which is at least three thousand years younger than 
the oldest monuments of the parent stem. 

Law has already been mentioned under the head of literature. 
As in England, the king was regarded as the source of justice, and 
at all events in the Ptolemaic period the judges went on circuit 
The government was imperialistic. The king was a deified auto- 
crat, but affairs were really managed by an organized bureaucracy. 
The monarch and the royal princes nominally commanded the 
army, which was divided into different corps, each named after its 
patron divinity. From the earliest times it consisted largely of 
negro, Libyan, and other mercenaries ; in fact, as in the case of the 
Roman Empire, it came eventually to consist of them almost en- 



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58 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

tirely. The fleet never attained a high development. The soldiers 
acted as a police force at home, under magistrates, who heard civil 
suits, and prefects were appointed over the large cities. The nomes 
had each its governor. 

Trade during the Old Empire seems to have been small. 
Egypt mainly depended on domestic agriculture, and, like China, 
was jealous of strangers. The turquoise and copper mines of 
Sinai, however, were early occupied and worked, and the use of 
bronze implies a knowledge of tin. Thothmes III. received iron 
vessels as tribute from the King of Antinay, a country on the coast 
of Asia Minor, but iron seems to have been practically unknown 
in the earlier period. Gold was worked under the first dynasties, 
but it was the Middle Empire that opened the Nubian gold mines. 
A plan of those of Rhedesieh and Kuban (Kobban) exists in a 
Turin Papyrus of the nineteenth dynasty. With the rise of the 
New Empire and the Semitic occupation of the Delta trade largely 
increased, favored by the conquests in Asia. Corn, linen, and 
horses were exported in return for the products of Asia and Cush. 
The expedition sent by Hatasu to Punt, or the Somali coast, had a 
commercial object, and Punt henceforth supplied Egypt with in- 
cense, gums, cosmetics, monkeys, apes, hounds, and panther 
skins. The Phoenicians brought vases of gold, silver, and terra- 
cotta, many of them with covers made in the shape of animals' 
heads. Necho attempted to join the Mediterranean and the Red 
Sea by a canal, and dispatched Phoenician sailors to circumnavigate 
Africa. 

From the age of the earliest monuments downward the Egyp- 
tians were acquainted with all the luxuries and comforts of culti- 
vated life. The country swarmed with artisans and handicrafts- 
men of all kinds. Glass blowers are depicted on monuments of the 
twelfth dynasty, and a fragment of dark-blue glass bears the 
praenomen of Antef III. of the eleventh. Vases of beautiful blue 
porcelain go back to the age of the Old Empire, and the dyed 
cloths of Egypt were justly celebrated. Wine and beer were 
drunk, and dinner parties were given by the wealthy, at which the 
guests sat on chairs. For amusements they had dancers, musi- 
cians, singers, tumblers, and jugglers, games like that of draughts, 
or field sports. Their dress was light, as was natural in a hot 
climate, and sandals were unknown before the fifth dynasty. The 
head was shorn, and an enormous wig worn over it, partly for the 



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EGYPT 59 

sake of cleanliness, partly for protection from the sun. Artificial 
beards were also used. Children went undressed before the age 
of puberty, and were distinguished by a single lock of hair on the 
left side. Their education was carefully attended to, and they were 
trained in "all the wisdom of the Egyptians." As stated by 
Herodotos, the Egyptians were usually monogamous; the king, 
however, was allowed to have several wives, and the great nobles 
might keep harems. Marriage between brother and sister was also 
permitted — a survival from a primitive condition of polyandry. 
But in Egypt woman held a high position, very unlike that 
occupied by her in Greece or in modern Oriental countries. She 
was the equal of her lord, went about freely and unveiled in public, 
and could ascend the throne in her own right as far back as the 
beginning of the second dynasty. Indeed, it would seem that at 
this period the children traced their descent through the mother 
rather than through the father. 

The character of the Egyptian people has been most variously 
estimated, reflecting the prejudicies or partiality of the observer. 
The intelligence of the ancient Egyptians, of the later epoch, was 
praised enthusiastically by Herodotos, who dwells on their excellent 
memories and comments on the attention given to matters of health. 
Diodorus counted them the most grateful of people. The verdict 
of the Roman emperor, Hadrian, however, marked them with less 
favor and by him they were arraigned as frivolous and refractory. 
The modern estimate of the Egyptians gives emphasis to their ex- 
traordinary energy, as witnessed by their wonderful architectural 
remains. 

Undoubtedly they were accurate observers and possessed a 
wonderful knowledge in utilizing the forces of nature. An agri- 
cultural people, they were much given to realism, were unpiqued by 
novelty and in general possessed such characteristics as were natural 
to their long development within their own narrow limits. The 
Egyptians formed a strong contrast to the other leading nations of 
antiquity. Gentle, good-tempered, unwarlike, and humane, they 
achieved success in war only by the help of superior organization and 
equipment. Home-loving and industrious, they made their country 
the seat of culture and material prosperity. If, like other southern 
races, they had not the same notions of truth as the northern Euro- 
pean, their legal institutions show that they had a profound sense 
of justice and equity. Under the ever-increasing tyranny and 



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60 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

servility of the New Empire, it is true, their political character 
deteriorated; but up to the last the pure-blooded inhabitants of 
Middle Egypt preserved some of that democratic spirit which still 
distinguishes the Egyptian of to-day. Their deep religious fervor 
was tempered by light-heartedness, and prevented from passing 
into fanaticism; and if from time to time they showed themselves 
excitable, it was the excitability of healthy children under a warm 
sun and a bright sky. 



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BABYLONIA AND ASSYRIA 



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BABYLONIA AND ASSYRIA 

Chapter I 

GEOGRAPHY AND ETHNOLOGY 

GEOGRAPHICALLY, as well as ethnologically and his- 
torically, Babylonia and Assyria form but one country. 
It is therefore with justice that classical writers some- 
times speak of the whole district between the Euphrates and Tigris 
as Assyria, though Babylonia would no doubt have been a more 
accurate name. The district naturally falls into two divisions, the 
northern being more or less mountainous, while the southern is flat 
and marshy, and a sharp line of separation is drawn between them 
at a spot where the two rivers approach closely to one another, 
and the undulating tableland of the north sinks suddenly into the 
alluvial flats of Babylonia. It was in these rich and loamy flats, 
however, that the civilization of Western Asia first developed. 
The northern plateau, for which the ancient inhabitants of the 
country had no general name, embraced the kingdom of Assyria, 
bounded by the Armenian and Zagros Mountains, the Lower Zab, 
and the Tigris, and the land of Mesopotamia, the Aram-Naharaim 
of the Bible. The latter country was probably the small district 
lying between the Euphrates and Khabur rivers and the Armenian 
Mountains, but the name Mesopotamia was subsequently extended 
to cover all the territory included between the Tigris and Eu- 
phrates. In this wider sense the plain of Mesopotamia, now 
known as El-Jezireh, is about 250 miles in length, and is inter- 
sected by a single mountain ridge, which rises abruptly out of the 
plain, and, branching off from the Zagros range, runs southward 
and eastward under the modern names of Sarazur, Hamrin, and 
Sinjar. The numerous tels and other remains of old habitations, 
even apart from the evidence of the Assyrian inscriptions, show 
how thickly this level region must once have been populated, 
though it is now for the most part a wilderness. North of the pla- 
teau rises a well-watered and undulating tract of country, diversi- 
fied by low ranges of limestone hills, sometimes barren, sometimes 

63 



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64 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

clothed with dwarf oaks, which often shut in rich plains and fer- 
tile valleys between their northern and northeastern slopes and the 
main mountain line from which they detach themselves. Beyond 
them are the lofty summits of the Niphates and Zagros ranges, 
where the Tigris and Euphrates have their sources, and by which 
Assyria was cut off from Armenia and Kurdistan. 

The country of Assyria took its name from the primi- 
tive capital of A-sur (or A-usar, "well watered district/' later 
Asshur), now Kilah-Sherghat, which stood on the right bank of 
the Tigris, midway between the Greater and Lesser Zab, and was 
founded in pre-Semitic times. Some sixty miles to the north, be- 
yond the Greater Zab, was another city of nearly equal age, but 
originally of smaller size and importance, called Nina, Ninua, or 
Nineveh, now represented by the mounds of Nebi Yunus and 
Kouyunjik, opposite Mosul, and built on the banks of the Tigris 
and Khusur, the modern Khosr. It was an ancient seat of worship 
of the goddess Ishtar, and is mentioned as one of the chief cities of 
Assyria in the third millennium b. c, but did not become the capital 
of the empire until the time of Sennacherib. Calah, the modern 
Nimrud, situated at the junction of the Tigris with the Upper 
Zab, was founded by Shalmaneser I. (about 1330 b. a), who made 
it the capital of Assyria, and it retained this position down to the 
reign of Sargon. About ten miles to the north of Nineveh was 
Dur-Sharrukin (now Khorsabad), built in the shape of a square 
by Sargon, whose palace was erected on a platform shaped like 
a T on its northwest side. Nine miles to the east of Nimrud is 
Balawat, the ancient Imgur Bel, " Bel is gracious," from which 
the bronze gates commemorating the achievements of Shalmaneser 
II., and now in the British Museum, have been brought. On the 
northern frontier of Assyria was Tarbiz, now Sherif Khan, while 
Arbela, now Ervil, on the east, was an early seat of the worship 
of Ishtar, and a city of considerable importance. Southwest of it 
lay Kalzu, enlarged and fortified by Sennacherib ; while the Mespila 
(Mushpilu, " low ground") of Xenophon, where the Medes made 
a final stand against Cyrus, must have been a little to the north of 
Nineveh. Besides these there were numerous other cities, more 
than twenty of the most important of which are enumerated among 
the insurgents against Shalmaneser II. ; while the Bavian inscrip- 
tion of Sennacherib contains a long list of the smaller towns and 
villages in the immediate neighborhood of the capital. 



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BABYLONIA AND ASSYRIA 



65 



But in populousness and antiquity Assyria was far exceeded 
by the southern kingdom of Babylonia. Here were the center and 
starting-point of the civilization which afterward spread through- 
out Western Asia. Its primitive inhabitants, whom we will term 
Sumerians, were the inventors of the cuneiform system of writing 
which, with many other elements of their culture, was subsequently 
adopted by their ruder Semitic conquerors. Of their origin noth- 



DLACK SEA 




ing positive is known, though certain considerations would seem to 
indicate that they came from the mountainous country to the east. 
On linguistic grounds they have been connected with the Turanian 
or Finno-Tatar races, but this theory cannot be regarded as well 
established. Their language was agglutinative and bears some 
general resemblance to the Ural-Altaic family of speech, though no 
real relationship can be established. After the Semitic conquest 
it ceased to be spoken, but was cultivated as a ritual language in the 



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66 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

Babylonian temples until the time of Alexander the Great, or even 
later. 

The civilization of Babylonia may possibly have originated in 
Anzan or southern Susiana and the coast of the Persian Gulf, out 
of which, according to the legend, the semi-human Oannes arose 
at dawn with the revelation of culture and knowledge. The pic- 
torial hieroglyphics which afterward became the cuneiform char- 
acters were perhaps first invented in Elam, as would seem to be 
indicated by such facts as the want of a simple character to denote 
the palm, or the use of the picture of a mountain to signify a 
country. In Babylonia, however, the Sumerian civilization under- 
went a rapid development. The country was divided into two por- 
tions, the northern, comprehending Sippara and Babylon, being 
know as Accad, and the southern, which included Erech, Larsa, 
and Ur, as Sumer or Shinar. To the south, along the seacoast, 
lay the Eden of Babylonian and Hebrew traditions at the mouths 
of the four rivers of Paradise, the Euphrates, Tigris, Karun, and 
Kercha, which originally emptied independently into the Persian 
Gulf. In the time of Alexander the Tigris and Euphrates still 
flowed by different mouths into the sea, as did also the Eulaeus or 
Karun in the Assyrian epoch; and Dr. Delitzsch calculates that a 
delta of between forty and fifty miles in length has been formed 
since the sixth century b. c. 1 

On the western bank of the Euphrates, near the coast, was the 
ancient city of Eridu, whose site is now known as Abu-Shahrein, 
the seat of worship of Ea, the god of the deep, and further west- 
ward was Ur, the birthplace of Abraham, now represented by the 
mound of Mugheir. Among the other south Babylonian cities 
may be mentioned Erech or Uruk, now Warka; Nippur, the city 
of Bel, now Niffer ; Larsa, perhaps the Ellasar of Genesis, the city 
of the sun, now Senkereh or Sinkara; Lagash, now Telloh; and 
Girsu, now represented by the mound of Tell-Id. Chief among the 
cities of northern Babylonia was the famous city of Babylon, which 
later gaves its name to the whole country. Founded by Sargon 
of Agade and established by him as the capital of his great empire, 
it maintained its preeminence in the land until its entire destruc- 
tion in 689 B. c. by Sennacherib, who choked the stream of the 
Arakhtu with its ruins. Rebuilt by Esarhaddon, it soon recovered 
its old importance, and after being united with its suburb, Bor- 
sippa, became the center of the empire of Nebuchadrezzar. 

1 See Pliny, " Natural History," vi. 130. 



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THE OLDEST BABYLONIAN CYLINDERS (FROM THE DZ CLERCQ COLLECTION) 

The cylinders show specimens of primitive Sumerian art 

The stone tablet is covered with writing of Ur-Xina of Lagash, about 4300 b. c. 



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BABYLONIA AND ASSYRIA 67 

Northward from Babylon, along the Euphrates, were the im- 
portant cities of Kutha, the modern TelMbrahim, the seat of wor- 
ship of the god Nergal, and Sippara, now Abu-Habba, famous for 
its ancient temple of Shamash, the Sun-god. Near Sippara seems 
to have been situated its sister city Agade, the original seat of 
Sargon's dominion. 

The country was intersected by a network of canals, which at 
the same time provided abundant irrigation for the land, and 
served as highways of travel and commerce. The most important 
of these, the Nahr Malka or " Royal Canal," which was navigable 
for the largest vessels, connected the Euphrates with the Tigris 
some distance above Babylon, and entered the latter river near the 
site of Seleukeia. Another great canal led from Borsippa to Baby- 
lon and formed the route of the New Year's Day procession when 
the gods of the former city were conveyed in their sacred vessel to 
pay their annual visit to Marchek, the chief deity of the metropolis. 
The Pallacopas, on the western side of the Euphrates, supplied an 
immense lake in the neighborhood of Borsippa. On the same 
side, to the south of Babylon, is the fresh-water lake of Nedjef, 
surrounded by sandstone cliffs of considerable height, forty miles 
in length and thirty-five at the broadest part Below the lake the 
marshes where Alexander nearly perished 2 extend as far as the 
sea. Here, on the Persian Gulf, lived the Caldai or Chaldeans, 
with their capital Bit-Yakin, when we first hear of them in the 
ninth century b. c. Under Merodach-baladan they made them- 
selves masters of Babylonia, and gave their name to the whole 
country in the Greek period. Northward of the Caldai were a 
number of kindred tribes, among whom the Gambuli, Dakkuri, 
Amukkani, and Pukudu or Pekod, may be mentioned. 

The fertility of the soil was great. Pliny tells us in his 
history that wheat after being cut twice was good keep for 
sheep; and according to Berosos, wheat, barley, sesame, ochrys, 
palms, apples, and many kinds of shelled fruit grew wild. Indeed, 
wheat still does so in the neighborhood of Anah, and we need not 
be surprised at the statement of Herodotos that grain commonly 
returned two hundredfold to the sower, and sometimes three hun- 
dj^dfold. Chaldea was the native country of the palm, the 360 
uses of which were recounted by a Persian poem ; 8 and we learn 

2 Arrian, " Anabasis of Alexander and Indica," vil 22; Strata, " Geography/ 1 
xvi. 1. 12. 

3 Strata, " Geography," xvi. 1. 14. 



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68 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

from Ammianus Marcellinus that from the point reached by 
Julian's army to the margin of the Persian Gulf was one con- 
tinuous forest of verdure. 

As already stated, the primitive population of Babylonia be- 
longed to a race which may have been allied to the Turanian or 
Finno-Tatar. At all events it spoke an agglutinative language 
which bears a certain resemblance to those of the Ural-Altaic 
family. This primitive population was supplanted by the Semites 
at some unknown period in the fourth millennium b. c. The 
Semitic element, however, was stronger and purer in Assyria than 
in Babylonia, where it produced a mixed type, which was still 
further crossed by the Elamite and Cassite conquests. The As- 
syrians, on the other hand, displayed all the physical and moral 
characteristics of the Semitic race; and while Babylonia was the 
home of culture and learning, Assyria produced a breed of fero- 
cious warriors and quick-witted traders. 



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Chapter II 

CHRONOLOGY AND HISTORY 

UNTIL the decipherment of the cuneiform inscriptions our 
knowledge of Babylonian and Assyrian history was at 
once meager and uncertain. With the exception of 
Herodotos, whose notices are scanty and of doubtful value, we 
had to depend almost entirely on the copyists and excerptists of 
Ktesias and Berosos. Ktesias was a native of Knidos, and the 
physician of Artaxerxes Mnemon, but he seems to have been de- 
void of critical power. Portions of the annals compiled by Per- 
sian writers were translated for him, and with the help of these he 
endeavored to destroy the credit of Herodotos as a historian. The 
annals, however, like those of Firdusi or of later Arabic writers, 
consisted for the most part of mere legendary tales and rationalized 
myths; we have, therefore, to seek in them not the history but 
the mythology of the Babylonians. Semiramis was the goddess 
Ishtar, Ninos the city of Nineveh, Ninyas or Zames the Sun-god. 
With these legends Ktesias mingled the Greek romance of Sar- 
danapallos, and eked out his list of Assyrian kings with names 
partly imaginary, partly geographical. Some of these were doubt- 
less due to the translators on whom he depended. In the later 
Persian period, however, Ktesias becomes more trustworthy. 

The work of Berosos was of a far different character. He 
was a priest of the temple of Bel at Babylon, and is said by Euse- 
bius and Tatian to have been a contemporary of Alexander the 
Great, and to have lived into the reign of Antiocus Soter. He 
had, therefore, special opportunities of knowing the history 
and astronomy of his country, upon which he wrote in Greek. 
Recent discoveries have abundantly established the trustwor- 
thiness of this Manetho of Babylonia, whose works, unfortunately, 
are known to us only through quotations at second and third 
hand. Since a cylinder of Antiocus, the son of Seleucus, 
has been found inscribed in Babylonian cuneiform, while bi- 
lingual fragments in cuneiform and cursive Greek of the Seleu- 
cid age have also been discovered, there is no reason why Berosos 



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70 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

should not have been equally well acquainted with both the Greek 
language and the old literature of his native country. And in 
spite of the fragmentary and corrupt state in which his fragments 
have come down to us, we now know that he was so. His account 
of the Deluge, for instance, agrees even in its details with that of 
the cuneiform texts. 

Josephus seems to have known the original work of Berosos, 
but the Christian writers quote him only indirectly through the 
compilation of Alexander Polyhistor (80 b. c). Hence we can put 
no confidence in the numbers attached to the dynasties in which 
Berosos, like his contemporary, Manetho, arranged the list of 
Babylonian kings. His Arabian dynasty, for example, seems to 
correspond with the Cassite dynasty of the inscriptions ; but if so, 
the title " Arabian " must be corrupt, as well as the nine kings and 
245 years assigned to it, since we know of at least nineteen Cassite 
monarchs, and the length of time the dynasty lasted must have 
been about 576 years. Minor dynasties, again, have been either 
run together or omitted from the list, as a fragmentary tablet 
which once contained a complete catalogue of legitimate Babylonian 
monarchs arranged in dynasties introduces a number of very short 
ones. This was probably the work of either Polyhistor or his copy- 
ists; at all events, the Assyrian dynasty of forty-five kings which 
is made to follow the Arabian one includes at least two dynasties, 
that of the Assyrian conqueror Tiglath-Adar, which lasted only a 
few years, and that of native princes, who succeeded in shaking 
off the Assyrian yoke and maintaining their independence for more 
than four centuries. 

Berosos confined his attention to Babylonian history; the his- 
tory of Assyria seems to have been compiled by Megasthenes in 
the time of Seleucus Nicator (290 B. a), from whom (as Pro- 
fessor Schrader has shown) it was extracted by Abydenos (260 
b. a). Abydenos in turn survives only in the quotations of the 
Christian writers. But as Nineveh and its monuments had long 
been destroyed, the only sources Abydenos could have had for his 
history must have been the records of Babylonia ; and it is not sur- 
prising, therefore, that the extracts we possess from his work all 
relate to the period of the Second Assyrian Empire, when Baby- 
lonia was brought into close contact with the northern kingdom. 
The earlier period must have been for the most part a mere blank, 
or else filled up with myth and legend. 



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BABYLONIA AND ASSYRIA 71 

One more classical authority for Babylonian history remains. 
This is the valuable Canon of Ptolemy, preserved in the Almagest, 
and giving the chronology of Babylon from 747 b. c. downward. 
It probably came from Berosos. Other classical notices of Assyro- 
Babylonian history may be passed over; like those of Diodorus, 
they are little more than echoes of Ktesias. It is only the Old Testa- 
ment which gives us fuller and more trustworthy information. 

It is, therefore, to the native texts that we have mainly to 
look for the history of Assyria and Babylonia. These are partly 
contemporaneous with the events they record, partly more recent 
compilations. The statements of those that are contemporaneous 
may be frankly accepted, due allowance being made for Oriental 
exaggeration and tendency to self-praise. The Assyrian historical 
documents, however, are singularly free from these faults. They 
were intended to be read by a large and well-educated public, and 
the practical character of the Assyrians made them realistic in style. 
The historical inscriptions are scrupulous in recording the names, 
and if possible the parentage, of the foreign princes whom they 
mention; every small town is carefully noted by name, and the 
numbers, whether of conquered populations and spoil, or of the As- 
syrian armies, are seldom round and never excessive. Even the 
disaster which befell Sennacherib — the least trustworthy of all the 
royal authors — in Palestine is not denied or glossed over; it is 
simply omitted, leaving a break which presupposes it. Of course, 
the same accuracy or trustworthiness cannot be expected in later 
compilations, and many of these, like the legend of Sargon of 
Agade, merely embody popular tales. But such legends belong 
rather to Babylonia than to Assyria, where the historical sense was 
really remarkably developed, and the extreme faithfulness with 
which old documents were copied inspires us with confidence in the 
statements made regarding them. The Assyrians early possessed 
a fixed chronology, reckoned by the names of officers called limmi, 
who were changed every year, and, like the eponymous archons 
at Athens, gave their name to their year of office. The chief events 
of each year were added to the name of its eponym, and in the 
earlier period of the empire the king himself assumed the office in 
his year of accession. We possess fragments of several editions of 
the Canon in which the names of the eponyms were recorded in 
order, and thus have an exact chronology of the empire from 913 
b. c. to 659 b. c. Since the inscription of Adad-nirari I. is dated 



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72 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

in the eponymy of Shulman-asharidu, it is clear that the system of 
dating by eponyms was already in existence in the fourteenth cen- 
tury b. c. ; and we may therefore trust Sennacherib when he asserts 
that a seal which belonged to Tukulti-Ninib was carried off to 
Babylon 600 years before his own capture of that city, and that 418 
years had elapsed between his invasion of Babylonia in 689 b. c. 
and the defeat of Tiglath-Pileser I. by the Babylonians; or this 
same Tiglath-Pileser, when he tells us that Shamshi-Adad had built 
the temple of Anu and Adad at Kilah-Sherghat 701 years before 
his own restoration of it. The system of eponyms, however, seems 
to have been confined to Assyria, and the early Babylonians do not 
appear to have had any settled system of chronology. Their in- 
scriptions, if dated at all, are dated by such events as the capture of 
a city or an inundation of the river. Still they must have had some 
more definite mode of counting time, since Ashur-bani-pal affirms 
that Kudur-Nankhundi, the Elamite, had oppressed Accad 1635 
years before his own conquest of Shushan; while the table of 
Babylonian dynasties, first discovered by George Smith, assigns to 
each king the length of his reign in years, months, and days. It 
must have been some such table as this which was used by Berosos. 
It is unfortunate that only fragments of this table are preserved, 
as our acquaintance with early Babylonian history and chronology 
is extremely meager and uncertain, and has to be gathered chiefly 
from the brick legends of the early kings or stray notices in later 
inscriptions. An inscription of Assyrian origin which gives brief 
notices of the occasions on which the monarchs of Assyria and 
Babylonia had come into contact with each other since the reigns 
of Ashur-bel-nisheshu and Karaindash is useful, since our knowl- 
edge of Assyrian chronology enables us to tabulate the Babylonian 
kings mentioned in the text. It is only with the era of Nabonasar 
(747 b. c), and the mutual help afforded by the Assyrian inscrip- 
tions and the Canon of Ptolemy, that an exact chronology of 
Babylonia begins. For the empire of Nebuchadrezzar the records 
of the Egibi banking firm are invaluable — dated deeds extending, 
year by year, from the reign of Nebuchadrezzar to the close of that 
of Darius Hystaspis. 

The history of Babylonia, like that of most great nations, be- 
gins with myth. Ten kings reigned over the country before the 
Deluge, their reigns lasting for 120 sari, or 432,000 years. The 
chronology as well as the number of reigns has a purely astro- 



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BABYLONIA AND ASSYRIA 78 

nomical origin: the origin of the names has yet to be discovered. 
The first of these antediluvian kings was Aloros of Babylon, which 
indicates the Babylonian parentage of the whole story. Aloros 
took the title of " shepherd," a title which we find assumed by 
the early Chaldean princes, and which, like the noifi^ Xa&v of 
Homer, proves the pastoral habits of the people before they be- 
came civilized citizens. The second successor of Aloros, Amelon, 
came from Pantibibla or Booktown, possibly Sippara, as did also 
Daonus, the Dun, or " mighty one," of the inscriptions. Otiartes 
was the ninth of the line, and belonged to Larankha, the Surippak 
of the texts. His son and successor was Xisuthros, the hero of the 
Deluge. 

With the Deluge the mythical history of Babylonia takes a 
new departure. From this event to the Persian conquest was a 
period of 36,000 years, or an astronomical cycle called saros. 1 
Xisuthros, with his family and friends, alone survived the waters 
which drowned the rest of mankind on account of their sins. He 
had been ordered by the gods to build a ship, to pitch it within 
and without, and to stock it with animals of every species. 
Xisuthros sent out first a dove, then a swallow, and lastly a raven, 
to discover whether the earth was dry; the dove and the swallow 
returned to the ship, and it was only when the raven flew away that 
the rescued hero ventured to leave his ark. He found that he had 
been stranded on the peak of the mountain of Nizir, " the mountain 
of the world," whose name signifies " protection," or " salvation." 
On its peak Xisuthros offered sacrifices, placing calamus, cedar 
wood, and incense in seven large bowls, and the gods, attracted by 
the sweet odor, gathered about the sacrificer. Immediately after- 
ward Xisuthros and his wife, like the biblical Enoch, were trans- 
lated to the regions of the blessed beyond the river of death, and 
his people made their way westward to Sippara. Here they dis- 
interred the books buried by their late ruler before the Deluge had 
taken place, and reestablished themselves in their old country under 
the government first of Evekhoos, and then of his son Khomas- 
bolos. Meanwhile other colonists had arrived in the plain of 
Sumer, and here, under the leadership of the giant Etana, called 
Titan by the Greek writers, they built a city of brick, and essayed 
to erect a tower by means of which they might scale the sky, and 

* This assumes that Brandis is right in supplying 258 years for the fourth 
dynasty of Alexander Polyhistor where the numerals have dropped out in the MS. 



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74 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

so win for themselves the immortality granted to Xisuthros. The 
spot where the tower was raised was the mound at Babylon, now 
known as the Amram, where stood the temple of Ami, the palace of 
the kings, and the hanging gardens of Nebuchadrezzar, and the 
season they chose for building it was the autumnal equinox. But 
the tower was overthrown in the night by the winds, and Bel frus- 
trated their purpose by confounding their language, and scattering 
them on the mound. Hence the place was called "the gate of 
God," though a later punning etymology connected it with baled, 
" to confound." 

Now happened the war waged by Etana, Bel, Prometheus, 
and Ogygos, against Kronos or Ea, and the adventures of the giant 
Ner, who, along with Etana, finally found a seat among the 
crowned heads in the underworld of Hades. Now, too, the goddess 
Ishtar descended from heaven to woo the sons of men ; Alala, the 
wild eagle, the lion-son of Silele; Isullanu, the woodsman; and 
above all, Tammuz, the young and beautiful Sun-god, the Adonis 
of Semitic and Greek story. Slain by the boar's tusk of winter, 
Tammuz sank to the under-world, whither he was followed by 
Ishtar, and not released till he had drunk of the waters of life. 
More famous even than Tammuz, however, was the solar hero, 
Gilgamesh, who has been identified with the biblical Nimrod. 
Gilgamesh was the prototype of the Melkarth of Tyre and the 
Herakles of Greece; and the twelve labors of Herakles may be 
traced back to the adventures of Gilgamesh, as recorded in the 
twelve books of the great Epic of early Chaldea. The Epic, whose 
authorship was ascribed to one Sin-liki-unnini, was preserved in 
the library of Erech, a city with which Gilgamesh was specially 
associated, though his birthplace was supposed to be Marada, the 
city of " solar glory." Its date may be roughly ascribed to about 
2000 b. c, so that it belongs to the period when the Semitic race 
had been long in possession of the land. 

At the time of the earliest contemporary records, and for a 
long period thereafter, Babylonia was divided into a number of 
more or less important city-states, each grouped about the sanc- 
tuary of its local deity, though from the first the tendency to the 
formation of larger states was manifested in the absorption, from 
time to time, of the weaker cities by their more powerful neigh- 
bors. Among the most prominent cities of the early period were 
Ur, Eridu, Larsa, Erech, and Lagash in the south, and Kish, 



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BABYLONIA AND ASSYRIA 75 

Agade, Sippara, and Babylon in the north. The oldest ruler known 
to us is En-shag-kushana, who calls himself lord of Kengi or south- 
ern Babylonia. How far his rule extended is not altogether clear, 
but Erech seems to have been his capital, and the city of Nippur, 
with its famous temple, formed part of his dominions. He reigned 
about 4500 b. c, and even at this early date the Semites had gained 
a footing in the land and established themselves in the city of Kish. 
En-shag-kushana defeated them in battle and checked their south- 
ward progress for a time, but about 4000 b. c. Lugalzaggisi, King 
of Kish, overran southern Babylonia, established his capital at 
Erech, and claims, in his inscriptions, to rule from the Persian 
Gulf to Lake Van. Apparently, however, the empire which he 
established was not of long duration. In the meantime, the city 
of Lag-ash, whose earliest known king, Urukagina, was probably 
a contemporary of En-shag-kushana, was growing in influence and 
power. About 4200 b. c. Eannatum of Lagash conquered the 
Semites of Kish and set up, in honor of his victory, a stele on 
which he is depicted charging upon the enemy, while vultures 
devour the bodies of the slain. For some four hundred years 
after this the kings of Lagash held a prominent position in 
Babylonia, until they were forced to yield to the Semitic dynasty 
of Agade. 

Sargon of Agade, who flourished about 3800 b. c, was one 
of the greatest in the long line of Babylonian monarchs. More 
than once he attacked Elam successfully, and he made several 
campaigns against Syria and Palestine. In the course of one of 
these he crossed to Cyprus and there, as on the opposite shores of 
the mainland, he caused images of himself to be erected. The 
empire of Sargon extended from the Persian Gulf to the Medi- 
terranean, and the city of Babylon, which he founded, was a fitting 
monument to his greatness. It is to his reign that the influence of 
Babylonian culture upon the populations of the eastern basin of the 
Mediterranean must first be traced. His fame long survived in 
popular tradition, and, like other great national heroes, legends 
gathered about his name. It was told of him that his mother bore 
him in secret and committed him, like a second Moses, to the river 
in a basket of reeds pitched with bitumen. The river conveyed 
him to Akki, the water drawer who brought him up as his own 
son until, by the favor of the goddess Ishtar, he became king 
and brought vast regions under his sway. Sargon was followed by; 



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76 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

his son Naram-Sin, who worthily maintained the glory of his 
father's reign, but of his successors little is known, and for some 
time after him, the history of Babylonia is involved in obscurity. 

When light breaks again, we find that the rulers of Lagash 
have once more come to the front Two of these monarchs, Ur- 
Bau (about 3200 b. c.) and Gudea (about 3000 b. a), have left 
long inscriptions and both were great builders; but under the 
successors of Gudea the power of Lagash declined, and the hegem- 
ony of Babylonia passed to the city of Ur, the birthplace of Abra- 
ham. Ur-Gur of Ur, who calls himself King of Sumer and Accad, 
or southern and northern Babylonia, erected temples and other 
buildings at Ur, Erech, Larsa, and Nippur. The great pyramidal 
tower in the latter city, explored by the American expedition sent 
out by the University of Pennsylvania, bears ample testimony to 
the great resources at his command and the wonderful skill of his 
architects. He was succeeded by his son, Dungi, who emulated 
his father in his building operations; he completed the temple of 
the Moon-god at Ur, and built also at Erech and at Lagash. From 
Ur the supremacy passed to Isin, whose king held it for several 
centuries, but about 2400 b. c. Ur recovered her old prestige and 
influence, under Dungi II., and Isin became her vassal. In 2285 
b. c. Kudur-Nankhundi, King of Elam, invaded Babylonia and 
carried off from Erech the statue of its goddess Nana, and his 
example was soon followed by other Elamite princes. Kudur- 
Mabuk, Prince of Emutbal in western Elam, took possession of 
Ur, and his son, Eri-Aku or Rim-Sin, ruled both at Ur and at Larsa. 

In the meantime a dynasty had arisen at Babylon, which was 
destined to inaugurate a new and brilliant period in the history of 
the land. Its founder, Sumu-abi, began to reign about 2400 b. c, 
and under his successors Babylon advanced steadily in prosperity 
and power. The sixth king of this dynasty, Hammurabi, who 
ruled for fifty-five years about 2250 b. c, was a worthy successor 
of the great Sargon. In the Old Testament he is called Amraphel, 
and is represented as being a contemporary of Abraham. In 
the thirtieth year of his reign he expelled the Elamites from 
Babylonian soil, and, as the deliverer of his country from the for- 
eign invaders, was readily acknowledged as king of all Babylonia. 
Mesopotamia, Syria, and Palestine fell under his sway, and once 
more a king of Babylon ruled from the Persian Gulf to the Medi- 
terranean. But Hammurabi was something more than a con- 



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EARLY BABYLONIAN ART 

Seal-cylinder of pat est of Lagash (early period) 

Cylinder of Sargon of Agade about 3800 b. o 

Statue of Gudea's architect , with inscription, from Lagash about 3000 b. c. 

Two heads from Gudea's time showing the Sumcrian type 



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BABYLONIA AND ASSYRIA T7 

queror ; he was a consummate statesman as well, and he organized 
his kingdom upon so firm a foundation that, in spite of internal 
revolution and foreign invaders, his work endured for nearly two 
thousand years. From his time until the conquest of Cyrus the 
land was no more broken up into petty independent states, and 
Babylon was the acknowledged capital of a united Babylonia. In 
every direction, moreover, he developed the natural resources of 
the country. By cutting new canals, and cleaning out the old 
canals, he brought the system of irrigation to a high degree of 
efficiency, and he built a great embankment to protect the land 
against the devastating floods which occurred in the spring of 
the year along the lower reaches of the Tigris. Throughout the 
land he rebuilt and adorned the temples of the local gods, and thus 
conciliated the good will of his subjects. He codified the laws, 
established courts of law everywhere, and gave his personal atten- 
tion to the administration of justice. It was not without reason 
that the Babylonians of a later day looked back upon the reign of 
Hammurabi as the golden age of their history. The dynasty of Ham- 
murabi came to an end about 2094 b. c, and was followed by the 
so-called Second Dynasty of Babylon, of which little is known save 
the names of the eleven monarchs composing it and the lengths of 
their respective reigns. 

About 1750 b. c. Babylonia was overrun by swarms of bar- 
barians, the Kasshu or Cassites, who poured down from the 
mountains to the north of Babylon between Elam and Media, sub- 
dued the whole land, and established a dynasty lasting, according 
to the native chronological lists, for 576 years. For a long time 
the rulers of Babylonia bear Cassite names, and a number of Cas- 
site divinities found a place in the Babylonian pantheon, but Baby- 
lonian culture finally prevailed. The Cassite conquerors gradually 
adopted the language, the religion, and the customs of the con- 
quered Babylonians and were at length absorbed into the older 
population. The correspondence between the Cassite kings of 
Babylon and the Egyptian Pharaohs of the eighteenth dynasty, 
about 1400 b. c, shows that important commercial relations then 
existed between Babylonia and Egypt and that the royal houses of 
the two countries were allied by marriage. 

It was, in all probability, the Cassite conquest that freed Assyria 
from the domination of Babylon and enabled her to take her place 
as an independent kingdom. Later legends ascribe the foundation 



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78 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

of the kingdom to the Moon-god, while Sargon boasts of " the 350 
kings," who had preceded him and had " sent forth the people of the 
land of Bel " ; but Assyria was but a portion of the Babylonian 
Empire in the age of Hammurabi, and the earliest Assyrian princes 
of whom we know were merely petty rulers of Asshur, the original 
capital of Assyria, from which it derived its name. One of these 
rulers was Shamshi-Adad, the son of Ishme Dagan, who built the 
temple of Ami and Adad at Asshur, and whose date is fixed at 
1820 b. c. by an inscription of Tiglath-Pileser I. It was not till 
long afterward that " the kindgom was founded " by Bel-kapkapu 
or Bel-bani, and the chieftains of Asshur became kings of Assyria. 
From this time forward, however, their power continued steadily 
to grow. About 1450 b. c. Ashur-bel-nisheshu made a treaty with 
the Babylonians, and his successor, Puzur-Ashur, conducted ne- 
gotiations with them in regard to a settlement of the boundary line. 
Two generations later the Cassite king of Babylon married an 
Assyrian princess. Her son, Kadashman-Kharbe L, was murdered 
by the party opposed to Assyrian influence, but the usurper, Nazi- 
bugash, was quickly overthrown by the Assyrians, who placed 
Kurigalzu II., a brother of Kadashman-Kharbe, on the throne. This 
event may be considered the turning-point in the history of the 
kingdoms of the Tigris and Euphrates; Assyria henceforth takes 
the place of the worn-out monarchy of Babylonia, and plays the 
chief part in the affairs of Western Asia until the day of its final 
fall. Less than a hundred years later the Assyrians were again in 
Babylonia, but this time as avowed enemies to all parties alike; 
Babylon was captured by the Assyrian monarch, Tukulti-Ninib, 
about 1280 b. c, and for a brief period its kings were vassals of 
Assyria. 

Hardly was Tukulti-Ninib dead, however, when the Baby- 
lonians seized the opportunity to make themselves free, and for a 
time the power of Assyria steadily declined. But Ashur-dan 
(about 12 10 b. c.) recovered from the Babylonians a portion of the 
territory they had wrested from Assyria, and with his reign begins 
a new period of Assyrian success. The Cassite dynasty of Babylon 
came to an end about 1207 b. c, and was succeeded by a line of 
Semitic rulers whom the native chroniclers term the dynasty of 
Isin. The most famous of these, Nebuchadrezzar I. (1135 b. a), 
gained a decisive victory over the Elamites and, though defeated 
by the Assyrians under their king, Ashur-resh-ishi, was able to 



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BABYLONIA AND ASSYRIA 79 

maintain the integrity of his dominions. But the political suprem- 
acy of Babylon was gone ; henceforth for many centuries Assyria, in 
spite of some vicissitudes of fortune, was to be the chief power of 
Western Asia. Tiglath-Pileser L, the son and successor of Ashur- 
resh-ishi, carried his arms as far as Cilicia and the Mediterranean, 
overran Kommagene, chastised the Arameans of Mesopotamia, 
swept the wild district of Kurdistan, and, after a momentary re- 
pulse at the hands of Merodach-nadin-akhe, the Babylonian king, 
defeated his antagonist on the banks of the Lower Zab and ravaged 
Babylonia, capturing Sippara, Opis, and even Babylon, the capital, 
itself. Merodach-nadin-akhe saved himself by a timely submission ; 
but a desultory war continued between his successors and Ashur- 
bel-kala, the son of Tiglath-Pileser. 

After this Assyria sinks for a while below the horizon of history. 
Its power had been founded on the individual energy and military 
skill of its monarchs, and rapidly declined under a feeble prince. 
Pethor, at the junction of the Sajur and Euphrates, along with the 
adjacent territory, fell into the hands of the Arameans, who occupied 
the upper Mesopotamian valley and, pressing into Syria, established 
the powerful kingdom of Damascus. But the power of Assyria was 
only temporarily weakened, and it revived again under Ashur-dan 
II., whose son, Adad-nirari II. (911-891 b. c), and great-grandson, 
Ashur-nazir-pal III. (885-860 b. c), made the name of Assyria 
again terrible to the surrounding nations. Ashur-nazir-pal was the 
most brutal and ferocious of even the Assyrian kings ; but he was 
also an energetic warrior and a great conqueror. The limits of his 
empire exceeded those of Tiglath-Pileser I. ; Kurdistan, Armenia, 
and Mesopotamia were traversed by his armies again and again, 
and his image was sculptured on the rocks at the sources of the 
Tigris by the side of those of Tiglath-Pileser I. and his own father, 
Tukulti-Ninib II. Nizir and its mountains, where the ark of the 
Chaldean Noah had rested, were overrun and ravaged, and the 
footsteps of the Assyrian conqueror were marked by impalements, 
by pyramids of human heads, and by unspeakable barbarities. 
Nabu-apal-iddina of Babylonia was defeated; Sangara of Car- 
chemish and his brother princes paid tribute, and on the shores 
of the Mediterranean Ashur-nazir-pal received the submission and 
treasure of the rich and unwarlike cities of Phoenicia. But these 
distant raids produced little else than misery abroad and acces- 
sion of wealth to the royal treasury at home ; no attempt was made 



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80 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

to hold the conquests that had been gained, or to compensate for 
the destruction of culture in the West by introducing into the rude 
regions of the East the borrowed civilization of Assyria. The cities 
of Assyria, nevertheless, were enriched with the spoils of foreign 
victory. Splendid palaces, temples, and other public buildings were 
erected, and adorned with elaborate sculptures and rich painting. 
Calah, which had been founded by Shalmaneser I., 1300 b. c, was 
rebuilt by Ashur-nazir-pal, who made it his favorite residence, and 
established a library there. His successor was his son, Shalmaneser 
II., named probably after the founder of Calah. 

Shalmaneser II., whose long and prosperous reign of thirty- 
five years marks the Climax of the First Assyrian Empire, inherited 
his father's vigor and military talent, along with greater political 
ability and appreciation of culture. His opening campaign was 
directed against the district about Lakes Van and Urumiyeh, and 
he next attacked the Mesopotamian state of Bit-Adini, which was 
repeatedly invaded in the course of the next three years and was 
finally annexed to Assyria. By the conquest of Tul-Barsip, on the 
eastern bank of the Euphrates, and the capture of Pethor (now 
Tashatan), the Assyrians regained possession of the ford across 
the river, and in 854 b. c. came into conflict with Hamath. Here 
Shalmaneser found himself confronted by a confederacy of western 
princes, under the leadership of Hadad-idri, or Hadadezer, of Da- 
mascus and Irkhulena of Hamath, whom a common danger had 
aroused to oppose the threatened advance of the Assyrian forces. 
But the confederacy was shattered in the battle of Karkar or Aroer, 
in which, among others, Ahab of Israel took part with 2000 
chariots and 10,000 infantry, and the Orontes was choked with 
the slain. The Assyrians themselves, however, had suffered so 
much that Shalmaneser was unable to follow up his victory, and 
two years afterward turned his attention to Babylonia, which he 
invaded and reduced to a state of vassalage, under the pretext of 
helping the legitimate king, Marduk-nadin-shum, against his in- 
surgent brother. It is on this occasion that we first hear of the 
Caldai or Chaldeans, whom the Assyrians found inhabiting the 
marshy district of the Persian Gulf. After thus securing his fron- 
tier on the south, Shalmaneser again marched against Syria (850 
b. c). The war lasted, at intervals, for eleven years, during which 
Hadadezer was succeeded by Hazael, and Shalmaneser obtained 
several barren victories, and claimed others which a strict criticism 



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BABYLONIA AND ASSYRIA 81 

must deny to him. In 842 b. c, however, Hazael really suffered 
a decisive defeat on the heights of Shenir, and his camp, along with 
1 121 chariots and 470 horses, fell into the hands of the Assyrians, 
who proceeded to besiege him in his capital, Damascus. But the 
siege was soon raised, though not before Jehu of Israel had sent 
tribute; and after wasting the Hauran, Shalmaneser marched to 
Beyrout, and there carved an image of himself on the rocky promon- 
tory of Ba'li-rasi, at the entrance to the Nahr-el-Kelb. 

The defeat of Hazael had removed the only rival Assyria had 
to fear. From this time forward Shalmaneser contented himself 
with expeditions to distant regions, such as Phoenicia, Melitene, 
Kappadokia, and Armenia, for the sake of exacting tribute. After 
834 b. c. he ceased to command his troops in person, the turtan or 
general-in-chief, Da'an-Ashur, taking his place. The infirmities of 
old age, which had no doubt obliged him to take this step, further 
led to the rebellion of his eldest son, Ashur-danin-apal, which 
troubled the last days of the old king, and well-nigh proved fatal 
to him. Twenty-seven cities, including Nineveh and Asshur, which 
probably resented the preference shown to Calah, as well as numer- 
ous smaller towns, declared for the pretender, and it was with 
considerable difficulty that the revolt was put down by Shalman- 
eser's second son, Shamshi-Adad II., who shortly afterward suc- 
ceeded him. Shamshi-Adad (824-812) and his son, Adad-nirari 
III. (811-783), fairly maintained the empire they had received; 
but their efforts were chiefly expended upon campaigns in Armenia, 
Media, and the neighboring regions, from which we may perhaps 
infer that the wild tribes of the east had begun to infest the As- 
syrian frontier. Shamshi-Adad, however, also endeavored to re- 
store the supremacy of Assyria in Babylonia. Marduk-balatsu-ikbi 
of Babylon and his allies were defeated with great slaughter at 
Dur-Papsukul about 820 b. c, and eight years later he succeeded 
in entering Babylon. Adad-nirari III. obliged Mari of Damascus 
to pay him tribute, as well as the Phoenicians, Israelites, Edomites, 
and Philistines. But though the royal annals show that the kings 
still led their armies out to battle year by year, it is plain that the 
power and vigor of the reigning dynasty were wearing out. The 
campaigns were either resultless, or else were made for purely de- 
fensive purposes. The empire of Shalmaneser had melted away. 
A few more princes followed Adad-nirari III., and then in 763 b. c. 
an eclipse of the sun took place on June 15, and the city of Asshur 



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8« ANCIENT EMPIRES 

revolted. In 761 b. c. the revolt had spread to Arrapakhitis, and 
two years later to Gozan. In 758 b. c. it was indeed stamped out 
in Asshur, but the more distant provinces were lost. Three years 
afterward, Ashur-nirari, the last of his line, ascended the throne. 
His reign lasted only ten years. What was left of the Assyrian 
Empire had been undermined by decay and discontent, the army 
finally declared against the monarch, and he and his dynasty fell 
together. On the 30th of Iyyar, or April, 745 b. c, Pul or Poros 
seized the vacant crown, and assumed the name of the ancient con- 
queror, Tiglath-Pileser. 

With the accession of Tiglath-Pileser III. the Second Assyrian 
Empire may be said to begin. This Second Empire differed essen- 
tially from the First. The usurper was an organizer as well as a 
conqueror, and sought for the first time in the history of Western 
Asia to give his conquests a consolidated and permanent character. 
The conquered provinces were no longer loosely connected with 
the central power by the payment of tribute, which was refused as 
soon as the Assyrian armies were out of sight ; nor were the cam- 
paigns undertaken by the kings of Nineveh mere raids, whose 
chief objects were prestige and plunder. The conquests of the 
Second Empire were made with a fixed purpose, and in pursuance 
of a definite line of policy, and, once made, they were tenaciously 
preserved. The conquered nations became subject provinces, gov- 
erned, wherever possible, by Assyrian satraps; while turbulent 
populations were deported to some distant part of the empire. Each 
province and capital city had its annual contribution to the imperial 
treasury fixed and regulated ; and centralization, with its attendant 
bureaucracy, superseded the old loose union of mutually hostile 
states and towns. Tiglath-Pileser took good care that the revolts 
to which he owed the crown should for the future be impossible. 
To him is due the inauguration of the principle which was afterward 
applied by Darius Hystaspis with so much success to the organiza- 
tion of the Persian Empire. The title to power which his birth de- 
nied him was secured by the institutions he established. 

The Second Assyrian Empire was essentially a commercial 
one. It was founded and maintained for the purpose of attracting 
the trade and wealth of Western Asia into Assyrian hands. The 
instincts of the warrior and crusader had made way for the more 
deeply rooted trading instincts of the Semitic race. The expedi- 
tions undertaken against the barbarous tribes of the east and north 



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BABYLONIA AND ASSYRIA 83 

were made solely for the purpose of protecting the frontier and 
caravan roads, and of keeping the predatory excursions of the 
mountaineers in check. The resources of the empire were really 
reserved for the subjugation of Babylonia, Syria, Palestine, and 
Egypt, the rich and civilized marts of the ancient world. It was 
to divert the /Stream of commerce into their new satrapy of Car- 
chemish that the Assyrian monarchs endeavored to destroy the mer- 
chant communities of Tyre and Sidon. 

Babylonia was necessarily the first to feel the effects of the 
new policy. Before six months were over Tiglath-Pileser was lead- 
ing his forces against the southern kingdom. The northern part 
of Babylonia was annexed to Assyria, and secured by a chain of 
fortresses. After chastising the Kurds, the Assyrian king next 
turned westward. Sarduris of Armenia, at the head of a confed- 
eracy of northern princes, in vain essayed to bar his way. The 
confederacy was defeated in Kommagene, Arpad (now Tel Erf ad) 
was captured, and all Syria lay at his feet. For the present he was 
content with exacting tribute from the Hittites of Carchemish, the 
Arameans, and the Phoenicians. Hamath, then in alliance with 
Uzziah of Judah, was conquered in 738, and its nineteen districts 
placed under Assyrian officers. For the first time we find the sys- 
tem of deportation applied on a large scale. Three years later 
Sarduris of Ararat was again attacked, and the neighborhood of 
his capital, Dhuspas or Tosp, now Van, was devastated over a space 
of 450 miles. Freed from any danger from the north, Tiglath- 
Pileser now eagerly seized the opportunity of overthrowing the 
power of Damascus offered by the request of the Jewish king, Ahaz 
for protection from his Syrian and Israelitish enemies. Rezin was 
defeated and besieged in his capital, Damascus, in 734, and the 
whole country far and near, including Samaria, Ammon, Moab, 
and Philistia, was reduced to subjection. At length, after a siege 
of two years, Damascus surrendered, its inhabitants were en- 
slaved, and Rezin was put to death. Syria became an Assyrian 
province, and all the princes of the west were summoned thither 
to do homage to the conqueror, while Tyre was fined 150 talents of 
gold or about $2,000,000. One of the chief ^bjects of Tiglath- 
Pileser's policy had thus been achieved. Bu^BabyJrfnia still re- 
mained. In 731 b. c, accordingly, the Asl^iari armies again 
marched into Chaldea. Ukin-ziru, the Khin-ziros of Ptolemy, was 
slain, Babylon and the other great cities were taken, and in 729 b. c. 



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84 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

Tiglath-Pileser assumed the imperial tide of " King of Sumer and 
Accad." 

But he did not live long to enjoy his success. In 727 b. c. he 
died, probably without children, and Shalmaneser IV., one of his 
generals, succeeded to his empire and his policy. Shalmaneser, how- 
ever, failed to found a dynasty. After an unsuccessful attempt to 
capture Tyre, he died, or was murdered, during the siege of 
Samaria in 722 b. c, and the supreme power was seized by another 
general, who assumed the venerable name of Sargon, "the con- 
stituted king." Sargon himself makes no pretension to royal 
ancestry, and though his grandson, Esarhaddon, claimed descent 
from two early kings, Bel-bani and Adasi, his claim was probably 
admitted only by the flattery of a court. In 721 b. c. he took Sa- 
maria, and deported 27,200 of its leading inhabitants into Gozan 
and Media, the remainder being placed under an Assyrian governor. 
Meanwhile Sargon had been reminded that the work of Tiglath- 
Pileser had been but half accomplished. Merodach-baladan, the Chal- 
dean king of Bit-Yakin, who in 729 b. c. had paid homage and 
tribute to Saigon's predecessor, now seized upon the throne of 
Babylon and strengthened himself by an alliance with Khumbani- 
gash, King of Elam. Sargon met the allied forces at Durilu and, 
though he claims a victory, the advantage would seem to have been 
with his opponents. At all events Sargon retired to his own do- 
minions, leaving Merodach-baladan in full possession of Babylon. 

Ilubidi or Ya'ubidi of Hamath had seized upon Sargon's diffi- 
culties with Babylon as a fitting opportunity to throw off his 
allegiance to Assyria, and, supported by Hanno of Gaza, had formed 
a coalition including the cities of Arpad, Simirra, Damascus, and 
Samaria. Hezekiah of Judah, who seems to have sympathized with 
the movement, prudently refrained committing himself to it and 
paid his tribute in time. It was well that he did so, for Sargon 
with characteristic promptness attacked Ilubidi at Karkar, before he 
could summon his allies, and totally defeated him. Ilubidi himself 
was flayed alive and the other leaders of the revolt in Hamath were 
put to death. Hanno, meanwhile, had been reinforced by a large 
body of troops from the Arabian kingdom of Musri, under their 
general, Sibe, ancLmet Sargon at Raphia. He too sustained a 
crushing defeat, flro, falling into the hands of the enemy, was 
carried in chains to Nineveh. 

In 717 Carchemish (now Jerablus), the wealthy capital of the 



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BABYLONIA AND ASSYRIA 86 

once powerful Hittites, withheld its tribute and formed an alliance 
with Mita, King of the Moschians. The city was taken: its last 
monarch, Pisiris, with all his treasures, fell into the hands of Sar- 
gon, and Assyria became mistress of the trade of Western Asia. 
Carchemish commanded the great caravan road from the East, and 
its satrap was one of the most important of the Assyrian governors. 
From this time onward every effort was made to attract all the 
commerce of Asia to Carchemish, its maneh became the standard 
weight of the empire, and no pains were spared to destroy the rival 
trade of the Phoenicians. 

The following year Saigon moved against the Armenian king- 
dom of Urartu, which had for some time shown a disposition to 
contest the Assyrian supremacy in the north. In the ensuing war, 
which lasted, with brief intermissions, for several years, Sargon 
was completely successful. Urartu was forced to submit, and Rusas, 
its king, committed suicide rather than fall into the hands of the 
conqueror. The Assyrian forces penetrated into the trackless moun- 
tains of distant Media ; Cilicia and the Tibareni were placed under 
an Assyrian governor, and the city of Malatiyeh was razed to 
the ground. Sargon could now turn to Palestine, where Philis- 
tia, Edom, and Moab, encouraged by Babylonia and Egypt, had 
refused to pay the tribute due to their Assyrian lord. But in 
711 Sargon swept down the coast, Ashdod and Gath were cap- 
tured, and the other Palestinian states avoided punishment by 
sending in their tribute. The suppression of the revolt in Pales- 
tine came none too soon. Aided by the Elamites, the Chaldean 
prince, Merodach-baladan of Bit-Yakin, had made himself mas- 
ter of Babylonia after Tiglath-Pileser's death, and the short cam- 
paign of Sargon in 721 failed to dispossess him. For twelve 
years Merodach-baladan was undisturbed. But he knew well that 
the Assyrian king was only waiting to complete his work in other 
directions before asserting his claim to Babylonia. When, therefore, 
the coalition of the northern nations was breaking down before the 
Assyrian arms, the Babylonian king sent embassies to Judah and 
the neighboring principalities, in order to concert measures of 
defense against the common enemy. Sargon, however, fell upon 
Palestine before Babylonia was ready to move, and when Merodach- 
baladan at last stirred he found himself single-landed face to face 
with the whole might of the Assyrian Empire. The issue could 
not be doubtful. The skillful tactics of Sargon prevented the Elam- 



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86 



ANCIENT EMPIRES 



ites from coming to Merodach-baladan's assistance, and he was 
driven first from Babylon, and then from the cities of the south. 
His last refuge, Bit-Yakin, in the marshes, was taken by storm in 
709, and he himself was forced to take refuge in Elam. Sargon now 
set himself to obliterate all traces of the Chaldean usurpation. The 
turbulent tribes whom the late king had settled in Babylonia were 
exterminated or expelled, and Sargon did his utmost to ingratiate 
himself with the native priesthood. His coronation in Baby- 
lon was like the coronation of the German emperors at Rome, 
and seemed to give him that title of legitimacy which 



was 




wanting in his own country. In the following year his pride 
was gratified by the voluntary submission of Uperi of Dilmun in 
the Persian Gulf, as well as of the Greek and Phoenician kings 
of the island of Cyprus, where he caused a monument of himself 
to be erected at Kition or Larnaka, inscribed with pseudo-archaic 
cuneiform characters. It was the first direct contact between Greek 
and Assyrian ; the culture of Babylonia and Assyria had long since 
been indirectly leavening the Hellenic world, but the barrier that 
had existed betweA them was now broken down. The divided 
nationalities of Western Asia had been fused into the Assyrian 
Empire, and Assyria now held sway from the Persian Gulf to the 



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BABYLONIA AND ASSYRIA 87 

Mediterranean. Elam was left the solitary rival of the new power 
in Asia, and the last years of Sargon's life were spent in a desultory 
war with it 

The political idea conceived by Tiglath-Pileser was thus re- 
alized. Egypt, it is true, was still unconquered, but for how long 
depended on the energy and ability of Sargon's successors. At first, 
however, these seemed to be wanting. The fierce old king was 
murdered in his new city of Dur-Sharrukin, the modern Khorsabad, 
and succeeded by his son, Sennacherib, on the 12th of Ab (July), 
705 b. c. Brought up in the purple, Sennacherib had none of his 
father's virtues or talents. Vainglorious, tyrannical, and brutal, he 
owed the preservation of the empire that had been bequeathed to 
him rather to the thoroughness with which all elements of opposition 
had been crushed than to any efforts of his own. The boastful style 
of his inscriptions contrasts sharply with the plain simplicity of 
his father's, and makes it needful to examine carefully the accuracy 
of their contents. 

Merodach-baladan, meanwhile, was biding his time, and the 
death of Sargon was the signal for a fresh attempt on his part to 
establish himself at Babylon, But a battle at Kish again drove him 
from the country, and Sennacherib found himself free to devastate 
Ellip (in the neighborhood of the modern Elwend). Then he fell 
upon Phoenicia (701 b. a). Sidon and other cities were captured, 
and the Phoenician king, Luli or Elulaeus, was forced to take refuge 
in Cyprus. The turn of Judah came next. Hezekiah's allies in 
Askalon and Ekron were severely punished; the Jewish towns, 
with a great quantity of spoil and captives, were taken; and the 
Jewish king himself purchased forgiveness by the gift of thirty 
talents of gold, three hundred talents of silver, precious stones, 
couches of ivory, dancing girls, and eunuchs, and male and female 
slaves. Sennacherib's return to Nineveh at this juncture has been 
ascribed to a reverse at the hands of the Egyptians on the southern 
border of Palestine, and to a pestilence which is said to have ravaged 
his army. The evidence in regard to these events is, however, far 
from convincing, and it is doubtful if Sennacherib ever came into 
actual contact with Egypt. It is much more probable that urgent 
affairs in the East demanded his presence at home. 

One cause, at least, was the unquiet state* of Babylonia, which 
could not forget that the power that claimed supremacy over her 
was a mere parvenu. The year after the campaign in Palestine 



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88 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

(700 b. c.)t a Chaldean named Mushezib-Marduk stirred up revolt, 
which Sennacherib had some difficulty in suppressing. Merodach- 
baladan and his followers had settled at the mouth of the Eulaeus, 
and in 694 Sennacherib found it necessary to have a fleet built and 
manned by Cyprians and Phoenicians in the Persian Gulf, by means 
of which he destroyed the Chaldean settlement. The following year 
a certain Nergal-ushezib made himself king of Babylon by the aid 
of the Elamites, but was soon defeated and taken a captive to 
Nineveh. 

In 692 Sennacherib made an unsuccessful attempt to invade 
Elam; and while he was thus occupied Mushezib-Marduk took 
advantage of the opportunity to seat himself upon the throne of 
Babylon. About a year later the allied forces of Babylon arid Elam 
met the Assyrians at Khalule and, though Sennacherib as usual 
claims a victory, his advance was checked and he retired forthwith 
to Assyria. In the campaign of 689 he was, however, more suc- 
cessful; Babylon was captured and given to the flames. Its in- 
habitants were sold into slavery, and the canal Arakhtu was choked 
with its ruins. If, however, we may judge from the interregnum 
which marks the last eight years of Sennacherib's reign in Ptolemy's 
Canon, Chaldea refused to acknowledge the legitimacy of the As- 
syrian domination up to the day of his death. The barbarous 
destruction of the venerable city of Babylon must have aroused 
against the ruthless monarch the horror of every inhabitant of the 
southern kingdom. 

It was the last political achievement of Sennacherib of which 
we know. The latter years of his life seem to have been spent in 
inactivity, or else in constructing canals and aqueducts in Assyria, 
in embanking the Tigris, and in building himself a palace at Nine- 
veh on a grander scale than had ever been attempted before. His 
partiality for his younger son, Esarhaddon, excited the jealousy of 
the two elder ones, Adrammelech and Nergal-sharezer, who mur- 
dered their father in the month Tebet (December), 681 b. c. Esar- 
haddon, who seems to have been in Babylonia at the time, took 
prompt measures to secure the succession and to punish his father's 
murderers. First causing himself to be proclaimed at Babylon, he 
marched upon Nineveh, which the rebels abandoned at his approach. 
Overtaking them at Khanigalbat, near Malatiyeh, he gained an easy 
victory and compelled his brothers to take refuge in Armenia. Esar- 
haddon then returned to Nineveh and was crowned there on the 



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BABYLONIA AND ASSYRIA 89 

eighteenth of Sivan (May- June), 680. In the first year of his 
reign, after settling affairs in the Gulf district, and establishing 
Na'id-Marduk, as a vassal of Assyria, on the throne of his father, 
Merodach-baladan, he directed his attention to the restoration of 
Babylon, rebuilding its walls and temples, and bringing back its 
captured deities, its plunder, and its people. Henceforward Babylon 
became the second capital of the empire, the Assyrian court residing 
alternately there and at Nineveh. The event quickly showed the 
wise policy of this measure of conciliation. 

Esarhaddon's reign, in fact, is characterized throughout by 
keen political tact. His political sagacity was equal to the high 
military talents which enabled him to complete the fabric of the 
Second Empire by the conquest of Egypt. His disposition, too, was 
unusually mild and humane for an Assyrian prince, and his powers 
of conciliation enabled him to consolidate what his military genius 
had won. One of his most remarkable achievements was his expedi- 
tion into the heart of Arabia, where he penetrated to the kingdoms 
of Huz and Buz, a considerable portion of the march being through 
arid desert The feat has never since been excelled, and the terror 
inspired by it among the desert tribes was such that the country ad- 
joining them was for the first time rendered safe. In the north, too, 
the Assyrian army penetrated almost equally far. Here Teispes 
the Kimmerian was defeated between the Zagros and Niphates, and 
thrown with his hordes westward into Asia Minor, while the 
copper mines in the eastern frontiers of Media — the very name of 
which had hitherto been barely known — were occupied and worked. 
This part of the country was already inhabited by Aryan Medes, 
and the great Semitic empire accordingly found itself in contact 
on both east and west with an Aryan population, and with those 
small independent states which seemed the natural political organiza- 
tion of the Aryan race. Among the twenty-two kings who sent 
materials for the palace of Esarhaddon at Nineveh were some 
Cyprian ones with Greek names. Greeks and Medes were thus 
divided only by a single empire. The day was preparing when the 
barrier should be removed, and the great struggle of Asiatic and 
European Aryan was to commence. 

Early in his reign Esarhaddon had taken good care to pick a 
quarrel with Sidon. The city was destroyed, its inhabitants were 
settled elsewhere, and, though Tyre was proof against Assyrian 
attack, the trade of the Phoenicians was half ruined, and Carchem- 



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90 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

ish and Nineveh were enriched at their expense. The conquest of 
Egypt was alone left to be achieved. 

In 670, after effectually blockading Tyre on the land side, 
Esarhaddon moved against Egypt, marching from Aphek to Raphia 
in fifteen days. Tirhakah was defeated, Memphis entered in tri- 
umph, and Thebes compelled to open its gates. Egypt was divided 
into twenty satrapies, governed partly by Assyrians, partly by native 
vassal princes, who were, however, watched by a number of As- 
syrian garrisons. Necho of Sais and Memphis headed the list of 
governors. On his return from the campaign, Esarhaddon had his 
younger son, Ashur-bani-pal, solemnly proclaimed as his successor 
on the throne of Assyria on the 12th of Iyyar or April, 669 B. c, 
and died six months # afterward, while on his way to put down a re- 
volt in Egypt. Ashur-bani-pal's first act was to appoint his brother, 
Shamash-shum-ukin, viceroy of Babylon. 

Ashur-bani-pal, the Sardanapaleus of the Greeks, to whom he 
became known through the medium of Lydia, was the grand 
monarque of Assyria. Ambitious and luxurious, he was a munifi- 
cent patron of literature and art, and while recognizing his own mili- 
tary incapacity, selected able generals, who extended and maintained 
his empire. After the conquest of Elam, which took place during 
his reign, the Assyrian Empire reached its final limits; but it had 
within it the elements of decay, and the pride and ambition of the 
monarch brought about the coalition which robbed him of Egypt, 
and well-nigh shattered the whole empire. The court set an exam- 
ple of costly magnificence, of cultivated luxury, and of learned an- 
tiquarianism, and Assyrian literature entered upon its Alexandrine 
stage. 

Ashur-bani-pal found Egypt in a state of revolt. Two cam- 
paigns were requisite to quell it, to drive Tirhakah back to the 
domains of his ancestors, and to destroy Thebes. Meanwhile, the 
siege of Tyre, begun before Esarhaddon's death, was closely pressed. 
The Tyrians at last submitted, and their king and his brothers 
had to send their daughters to the harem of the Assyrian monarch, 
while Tubal and Cilicia also owned the supremacy of Nineveh. 
The name of the great king spread to the extreme west of Asia 
Minor, and Gugu or Gyges of Lydia voluntarily sent him tribute, 
including two Kimmerian chiefs whom the Lydian prince had 
captured with his own hand. The submission of Gyges was as- 
cribed to a dream; more probably Gyges trusted to Assyria for 



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BABYLONIA AND ASSYRIA 91 

defense against the adherents of the dynasty he had displaced and 
the Kimmerian hordes that menaced him from without. 

But Gyges soon discovered that the friendship of Nineveh was 
a burden rather than a gain. The Assyrian Empire was threatening 
to swallow up all the East. Elam, the last civilized kingdom of 
the old world which had held out, had finally fallen after a long 
struggle before the arms of the Assyrian generals, who had been 
aided by internal dissensions; and Ummanigash, its titular sov- 
ereign, was really little else than an Assyrian viceroy. But in 
648 b. c. the blow was struck which eventually led to the overthrow 
of the whole empire. A general insurrection broke out, headed by 
Ashur-bani-pal's brother, the viceroy of Babylon. Elam, Babylonia, 
Arabia, and Palestine made common cause against the oppressor. 
Egypt had achieved her independence some twelve years before, and 
thus had no direct interest in the movement. Ashur-bani-pal's 
agents in Babylonia had doubtless forewarned him of the threatened 
insurrection there, but all such warnings seem to have been dis- 
regarded until the event actually took place. With great difficulty 
the revolt was crushed; Babylon and Cuthah were reduced by fam- 
ine, and Shamash-shum-ukin burned himself to death in his palace. 
The wandering tribes of northern Arabia, Kedar, Zobah, Nabathsea, 
etc., were chastised, and fire and sword were carried through Elam. 
Ummanaldash, the last king of Elam, fled to the mountains, the 
ancient capital of Shushan was plundered and razed, and the whole 
of Susiana was reduced to a wilderness. Babylonia was thus 
avenged for its many invasions upon the country whence its civiliza- 
tion had originally come. 

Its union with Assyria now became closer than before. Ashur- 
bani-pal would trust no more viceroys, but had himself crowned 
King of Babylon under the name of Kandalanu. He died in 626 
b. c, leaving his kingdom to his son, Ashur-etil-ilani, who after 
a brief reign was succeeded by his brother, Sin-shar-ishkun, the 
Sarakos of Berosos and the last king of Assyria. On the death of 
Ashur-bani-pal, Nabopolassar, a Chaldean, made himself king of 
Babylon, though for some years his rule did not extend beyond the 
district immediately adjoining the city, and a considerable portion 
of Babylonia remained under Assyrian control. In the meantime 
the Aryan Medes had consolidated their scattered communities into 
a strong state, which constituted a formidable menace to the se- 
curity of the Assyrian Empire. At last the storm broke. Toward 



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98 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

the close of the reign of Sin-shar-ishkun the Medes swept over 
Assyria, ravaged Mesopotamia, and laid siege to Nineveh itself. 
When at length the great city was carried by storm, Sin-shar-ishkun 
fell back upon his strong defenses at Calah and there sought to 
make a new stand. But fate was against him. An unusual rise 
of the Tigris undermined the wall, the Medes entered through the 
breach, and the city was sacked and burned. Thus in 606 b. c. the 
reign of Sin-shar-ishkun came to an end together with the last 
remnants of the monarchy he represented. Nabopolassar, though 
he took no direct part in the destruction of Nineveh, had throughout 
been an ally of the Medes, and he now received his reward. In the 
dismemberment of the Assyrian Empire, Assyria proper, with the 
northern provinces, fell to the share of the Medes, while Nabo- 
polassar secured Mesopotamia and Syria. 

Nabu-kudurri-usur or Nebuchadrezzar, Nabopolassar's eldest 
son, succeeded his father upon the throne of Babylon. The attempt 
of Pharaoh Necho to win for Egypt the inheritance of Assyria was 
overthrown at the battle of Carchemish, and when Nebuchadrezzar 
succeeded his father in 604 b. c. he found himself the undisputed 
lord of Western Asia. Palestine was coerced in 597, and the destruc- 
tion of Jerusalem in 586 laid a way open for the invasion of Egypt, 
which took place twenty years later. Tyre also underwent a long 
siege of thirteen years, but it is doubtful whether it was taken, 
after all. 

Babylon was now enriched with the spoils of foreign conquest. 
It owed as much to Nebuchadrezzar as Rome owed to Augustus. 
The buildings and walls with which it was adorned were worthy 
of the metropolis of the world. A triple line of mighty walls, of 
which the outermost was seven miles in length, rendered the city 
practically impregnable. On the site of the old royal residence a 
new palace, now represented by the Kasr mound, was built on a 
scale of great magnificence, and, between the northern end of the 
outer city wall and the river, where the mound Babil now stands, 
another palace was erected upon an artificial terrace nearly 100 
feet in height. It was this latter palace, with the ornamental grounds 
surrounding it, that constituted the celebrated hanging gardens 
of Babylon. Esagila, the ancient temple of Marduk, was restored 
and richly adorned; the temple of the Seven Lights, dedicated to 
Nebo at Borsippa by an early king, who had raised it to a height 
of forty-two cubits, was completed ; and many other temples were 



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BABYLONIA AND ASSYRIA 9» 

erected on a sumptuous scale both in Babylon and in the neigh- 
boring cities. After a reign of forty-three years Nebuchadrezzar 
died (561 b. a), and left the crown to his son, Evil-Merodach, 
who had a short and inactive reign of two years, when he was mur- 
dered by his brother-in-law Nergal-sharezer, the Neriglissar of the 
Greeks. Nergal-sharezer calls himself the son of Bel-shum-ishkun, 
" the wise prince " ; he seems to have been Rab-mag at the time 
of the destruction of Jerusalem (Jer. xxxix. 3). His son, who 
succeeded him, was a mere boy, and was murdered after a brief 
reign of four months. The power now passed from the house of 
Nabopolassar — Nabu-na'id or Nabonidos, who was raised to the 
throne, being of another family. His reign lasted seventeen years 
and witnessed the end of the Babylonian Empire. 

Recent discoveries have made us acquainted with the history of 
this event. Nabonidos found a new power rising among the moun- 
tains of Elam. Aryan settlers had made their way across the 
deserts of Sagartia, and penetrated as far as the rear of the Tu- 
ranian population in Media and Susiana. Before the death of Nebu- 
chadrezzar Media was completely Aryanized, and an Aryan tribe 
had established itself almost within sight of the Persian Gulf. This 
tribe subsequently became known under the name of Persian. After 
the overthrow of Elam by Assyria, and then of Assyria itself, there 
was nothing to bar its way to the occupation of the waste lands 
of Anzan in western Elam. Early in the reign of Nabonidos the 
King of Anzan was Cyrus, who claimed descent from the Aryan 
clan of the Akhaemenids. 

Cyrus had the abilities and the will to found an empire. Media 
was the first point of attack, then Babylonia. The city of Ekbatana 
was the center of a loosely organized empire under the Scythian 
king, Astyages, who had conquered the Median Kyaxares and sub- 
jugated his country. The Medes and the Persians were essentially 
the same people, and Cyrus came forward as their deliverer from 
an alien rule. 

But the elements of weakness in Babylonia were almost as 
great as those in Media. Nabonidos, by attempted religious innova- 
tions, had gained the ill will of a considerable party, which included 
the priests and aristocracy. A hostile people, the Jews, were 
planted in the very heart of the country, where, contrary to the 
experience and expectation of their conquerors, they had refused 
to amalgamate with the native population. The distant provinces 



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94 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

of the empire could not be depended on; that they were quiet 
was due rather to exhaustion than to fear or loyalty. In the sixth 
year of Nabonidos, 549 b. a, the Median monarchy fell. The army 
of Istuvegu or Astyages revolted against him while on the march 
against Cyrus, and gave him into the hands of his enemy. Ekbatana 
was captured and plundered by Cyrus, who spent the next few 
years in subduing the remains of the Median Empire and in extend- 
ing his dominions in Asia Minor by the conquest of the powerful 
and extensive kingdom of Lydia. After the capture of Arbela, 
in 546 b. c, he overran what had once been the kingdom of Assyria, 
and made himself master of all Mesopotamia up to the Baby- 
lonian frontier. Meanwhile Nabonidos, with characteristic supine- 
ness, had been taking but scant measures to avert the coming attack, 
although the elaborate fortifications erected by Nebuchadrezzar were 
repaired, and an army under command of the king's son, Bel- 
chazzar, was dispatched to intercept the march of the Persians 
at the northern frontier. But the advance of Cyrus was delayed 
by other causes, and it was not until the year 538 that he actually 
invaded Babylonia. 

The Chaldeans on the coast revolted, and in the month Tain- 
muz, or June, Cyrus defeated the army of Nabonidos, and drove it 
southward before him. Immediately afterward the people of Accad, 
or possibly the Jews settled there, revolted; the Persians entered 
Sippara on the 14th of the month without fighting, and Nabonidos 
fled. Babylon opened its gates to the Persian general, Gobryas, and 
Nabonidos was captured. On the 3d of Marchesvan (October) 
Cyrus entered Babylon in triumph, and the Babylonian Empire was 
at an end. Nabonidos seems to have been kindly treated, and, ac- 
cording to Berosos, was made governor of Carmania, east of Persia. 
The Persian prince, however, adopted other means also for winning 
the favor of his new subjects. The temples were restored, the 
gods and their priests received large offerings, and Cyrus and his 
son, Kambyses, took part in the religious processions, and styled 
themselves the servants of the gods Merodach and Nebo. 

The death of Kambyses inspired the Babylonians with the 
hope of recovering their independence. In 521 b. c. they revolted 
under Nadintu-Bel, the son of Aniru, who called himself Nebu- 
chadrezzar, the son of Nabonidos. A portrait of him in the Greek 
style, and with a Greek helmet, is carved on a cameo in the Berlin 
Museum. But Darius overthrew the pretender in two battles at 



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BABYLONIA AND ASSYRIA 95 

Zazan, and pursued him into Babylon, which he closely besieged 
(November, 521 b. a). The siege lasted nearly two years, but the 
Persians finally captured the city by diverting the Euphrates from 
its channel, and, after passing by night along the river-bed, enter- 
ing it through an unguarded gate. It is this siege and capture 
which Herodotos transfers to the age of Cyrus. Once more, in 515 
b. c, a new impostor arose, Arakhu, the son of the Armenian 
Khaldita. He too claimed to be Nebuchadrezzar II., and he too 
was taken and executed in Babylon after a short siege. 



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Chapter III 

RELIGION AND MYTHOLOGY 

THE religion of ancient Babylonia was originally Shamanis- 
tic, like the religion of the Siberians or Samoyeds at the 
present day. Every object and force of nature was supposed 
to have its zi or spirit, who could be controlled by the magical exor- 
cisms of the Shaman, or sorcerer-priest. These spirits were good 
or bad, like the objects and forces they represented, and like the 
latter, too, they were innumerable. Naturally the demons were 
supposed to outnumber the powers of good, and there was scarcely 
an action which did not risk demoniac possession. Diseases were 
all produced by their malevolence, and it was necessary to guard 
the house from them by placing at its entrance the figure of a cherub 
or some similar composite creature, which was regarded as a good 
genius. Even the dead were believed sometimes to revisit the earth 
and devour the living under the forms of vampires. Gradually, cer- 
tian of these spirits, or rather deified forces of nature, were elevated 
above the rest into the position of gods, more especially Anu " the 
sky," En-lil " the earth " and " under world," and Ea " the deep." 
But old habits of thought were too strong to be resisted, and even 
these deities had each their zi attached to them. 

It is not impossible that before the arrival of the Semites a 
sort of liturgy was already in the hands of the Sumerians, consist- 
ing of exorcisms and magical formulae, interspersed with occasional 
hymns about the spirits or legends of their achievements, and ending 
with the words, " Be adjured, O spirit of heaven; be adjured, O 
spirit of earth." With the rise of a united monarchy, however, the 
gods began to assume importance and form themselves into a 
hierarchy. The worship of special deities had become associated 
with special cities; Ur was the city of the Moon-god, Larsa of 
the Sun-god, Babylon of Merodach ; and the supremacy of a city 
implied the supremacy of the deity it worshiped. The kings vied 
with each other in erecting temples to these great divinities, whose 
vicegerents on earth they were, and those who were engaged in or- 
ganizing men below at the same time organized the gods above. 

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BABYLONIA AND ASSYRIA 97 

The first monarch of all Chaldea of whom we know is also the first 
great temple builder. 

It was when Sumerian religion had reached this stage that 
the Semite entered the land. Shamanism had developed into poly- 
theism ; the sorcerer had become the priest. Along with the change 
had gone an ever-increasing tendency to solar-worship. The sun and 
the daylight were the most potent powers of good that affected the 
early Chaldean, and when the spirits that were in nature became 
the gods of nature, the sun and the daylight were accordingly 
marked out for special adoration. The supreme deity of several 
of the great cities was the Sun-god under varying forms; Mero- 
dach of Babylon, for instance, was but " the solar brilliance," who, 
with the rise of Babylon, was elevated to a chief place in the Baby- 
lonian pantheon. But there was another cause which aided the 
growth of sun-worship. The age of political unification was also 
the age of the great outburst of national literature. Poets started 
up on all sides, and hymns innumerable were composed in honor of 
the new gods. In course of time these hymns were invested with 
a sacred character, and, like the Rig- Veda in India, were arranged 
in a collection which superseded the old collection of magical exor- 
cisms as the inspired liturgy of Chaldea. It was to the sun, the 
great benefactor of mankind, that the majority of the hymns were 
addressed, and the attributes ascribed to the Sun-god, and the 
manifold names whereby he was invoked, became so many new 
solar divinities. These in turn passed into solar heroes, as the 
names given to them and the human actions recounted of them gave 
rise to legends and myths. 

For a long time, however, the Sun-god had a formidable rival 
in the Moon-god. The Chaldeans were emphatically a people of 
astronomers and astrologers, the result of their early pastoral life 
on the mountains of Susiana, and the moon accordingly played the 
same part in their religion and mythology that the sun has done 
elsewhere. It is the Moon-god that stands at the head of the older 
pantheon ; it was to him that the imperial city of Ur was dedicated ; 
and in the hierarchical system of the priesthood the Moon-god was 
the father of the Sun-god. But the Semitic occupation of Baby- 
lonia turned the scale in favor of the latter. The Semites, the chil- 
dren of the desert, made the sun the center of their faith and wor- 
ship ; as Baal he was the Supreme Being, now giving life and light 
to his adorers, now scorching them with his fiery rays and demand- 



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98 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

ing the sacrifice of their nearest and dearest. As soon as the 
Semitic element in the population of Chaldea became strong, sun- 
worship began to absorb everything else. From the earliest times 
each male deity seems to have had his female consort, and in some 
cases more than one. These goddesses are usually mere shadowy 
reflections of their divine spouses, and, in consequence of their in- 
ferior position, there is a gradual tendency to reduce their number 
by assimilation until there was practically only one goddess, appear- 
ing under many forms. Thus the old divinities Ninni, Nana, and 
Anunit are all in course of time identified with Ishtar, and the 
name of the latter came to be the common appellation for " god- 
dess " in general. 

Long before the second millennium b. c. the work of fusing 
the religious ideas of the Sumerian and the Semite together was 
completed. The Semite borrowed the old Sumerian pantheon en 
bloc, classing the inferior gods among the three hundred spirits of 
heaven and the six hundred spirits of earth, and superadding his 
own religious conceptions and his own divinities. These were 
identified with the leading deities of the Chaldean creed; En-lil, 
for example, becoming Bel, and Utu, Shamash. But the great 
majority of deities were adopted without change of either name or 
attributes, though the names were in some cases slightly Semitized. 

This process of syncretism went along with a curious develop- 
ment of astro-theology. The heavenly bodies, like all other objects 
in nature, had once had their special spirits ; when this old phase of 
religion passed away the spirits were replaced by the gods of the 
new pantheon. The chief divinities were identified with the planets 
and other leading stars; the sun and moon were already provided 
for. The state religion of Babylonia thus became a strange mix- 
ture of worn-out Sumerian spirit worship, of the Semitized later 
Sumerian hierarchy of gods, of Semitic religious conceptions, and 
of astro-theology. 

The state religion, once elaborated, underwent no material 
change. The places of the gods, indeed, were moved from time 
to time, as one city or another rose to preeminence; Ashur, the 
local deity of the old capital Asshur, being set at the head of the 
divine hierarchy in Assyria, and Merodach usurping the place of 
the older deities, when the supremacy of Babylon over the other 
cities of Sumer and Accad became firmly established. But the main 
outlines of the system remained unaltered. While the Sumerian sub- 



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BABYLONIA AND ASSYRIA 99 

structure, with its spirits and its exorcisms, faded more and more 
out of view, especially in Assyria, — while the religion of the As- 
syrian monarchs can be with difficulty distinguished from that of 
their Phoenician kindred, — the creed that was based upon it lasted 
to the end. 

A time came, however, when the popular theology entered into 
the schools of philosophy. The gods were resolved into elements 
and abstractions, and it was taught that they and the universe alike 
had originated out of a chaos of waters. This system of cos- 
mogony has been embodied in the poem of the Creation in seven 
days, which bears such a remarkable likeness to the first chapter 
of Genesis ; from the prominent part played in it by Bel-Merodach 
it is evident that it must have originated in Babylon. The system 
of the poem agrees with the statements of Damascius the Neopla- 
tonist, who tells us that Apason or Apsu, " the deep," and Mummu 
Tiamat (Moymis Tavthe), "the chaos of the sea," were the ori- 
ginal principles out of which all things have been begotten. Of 
them were born Lakhmu and Lakhamu (Dakhos and Dakhe) ; of 
them again Aushar and Kishar (Assoros and Kissare), heaven and 
earth, who originated the three supreme gods, Anu, Bel, and Ea, the 
latter being the father of Bel-Merodach, the Demiurge. This theory 
of emanations was the source of later Gnostic speculation, while the 
philosophic explanation of the universe it embodied made its way 
into Ionia, and there started Greek speculative philosophy. Thales 
and his doctrines drew their ultimate inspiration from Babylonia. 

According to the Babylonian legends the present x6<r/ios or 
regulated universe was preceded by an anarchical chaos, in which 
nature had made its first essays in creating. Composite creatures 
had been formed out of the earth and the deep, like those engraved 
on the gems and cylinders, or painted, according to Berosos, on the 
walls of the temple of Bel. There were men with the bodies of 
birds or the tails of fish, and human beings with birds' faces. The 
philosophy of Anaximander, which has been termed an anticipa- 
tion of Darwinism, may be traced to this cosmological theory. 

The after-life expected by the Babylonian was as dreary as 
that expected by the Greek. Hades was beneath the earth, a place 
of darkness and gloom, from which none might return, where the 
spirits of the dead flitted like bats, with dust alone for their food. 
Here the shadowy phantoms of the heroes of old time sate 
crowned, each on his throne (cp. Isaiah, xiv. 9), and in the midst 



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100 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

rose the fortress-palace of Nin-kigal or Allat, the goddess of death. 
In the legend of the descent of Ishtar to the nether world in quest 
of her spouse Tammuz, the goddess passes through seven gates, 
guarded by as many warders who strip her of her dress and orna- 
ments until, after passing the seventh gate, she stands naked in the 
presence of Allat. But even within the abode of Nin-kigal the 
waters of life bubbled up at the foot of the golden throne of the 
spirits of earth, and whosoever could drink of them might return 
to the upper world. A happier lot was reserved for a few. 
Xisuthros and his wife were translated for their piety to the bliss- 
ful fields in the mysterious region " at the mouth of the rivers," 
and the hero slain in battle, if duly buried and cared for by his 
friends, lay upon a soft couch drinking pure water. But woe to 
him whose body lay unburied and whose funeral offerings were 
neglected ; he was consumed with gnawing hunger, and was forced 
to eat the offal thrown into the streets. 

But the fear of the evils that the demons were perpetually de- 
vising against him while alive must have made the life of the Baby- 
lonian almost intolerable. Every day and almost every hour had 
its religious ceremony, the neglect or malperformance of which 
brought down upon him some misfortune. In course of time magic 
became a science. An elaborate system of augury was gradually 
formed, and omens were drawn from every event that could 
possibly happen. Every temple had also its collection of exorcisms 
and incantations, the recital of which, accompanied by the proper 
symbolic acts, afforded protection against the malevolence of 
demons, sorcerers, and witches. These magical texts, of which 
vast numbers have been found, formed a distinct branch of the 
Assyro-Babylonian religious literature, and survived long after 
the fall of the Babylonian monarchy. The bronze bowls found by 
Sir A. H. Layard, as well as the part played by charms and demons 
in the Talmud, show how strongly the belief in magic had seized 
not only upon the native mind, but on that of the Jews also who 
had settled in the country. Through the Jews and various Gnostic 
systems of early Christianity, aided in part by the superstitions of 
imperial Rome, the belief found its way into the mediaeval church, 
and the features of the mediaeval devil may be traced in an As- 
syrian bas-relief which represents the dragon of Chaos, with daws, 
tail, horns, and wings, pursued by the Sun-god Merodach. 

Babylonian mythology is a more pleasing subject than the 



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BABYLONIA AND ASSYRIA 101 

magic which made the Chaldeans famous in later days. The 
myths of Babylonia were rich and manifold, and their extensive 
circulation among the nations of antiquity is only beginning to be 
appreciated. Reference has already been made to some of them, 
and there are many that reappear under more or less changed 
forms in Jewish and Greek literature. We have learned at last how 
great was the debt owed by Greek mythology to the poets of 
ancient Babylonia, whose legends found their way to the west 
through the mouths of Phoenician traders. Adonis and Aphrodite 
are the Tammuz and Ishtar of Babylonian story; and the death 
of Adonis, and the descent of the goddess into Hades to search for 
him, formed the subject of Babylonian poems before the Greek per- 
haps had yet reached his future home. The theft of Prometheus 
has its analogue in the story of the god Zu, "the divine storm- 
bird," who stole the tablets of Bel, wherein destiny is written, and 
was punished for his crime by the father of the gods. Gilgamesh, 
originally a fire-god, and then a solar hero, is the prototype of 
Herakles. Ea-bani, the confidant and adviser of Gilgamesh, is the 
Centaur Kheiron, for Kheiron was the son of Kronos, and Kronos 
is identified by Berosos with Ea, the " creator " of Ea-bani. The 
lion slain by the Chaldean hero is the lion of Nemea; the winged 
bull made by Anu to revenge the slight suffered by Ishtar is the 
bull of Krete ; the tyrant Khumbaba, slain by Gilgamesh in " the land 
of the pine trees, the sea of the gods, the sanctuary of the spirits," 
is the tyrant Geryon, 1 the gems borne by the trees of the forest 
beyond " the gateway of the sun " are the apples of the Hesperides ; 
and the deadly sickness of Gilgamesh himself is but the fever 
caused by the poisoned tunic of Nessos. Even the encircling ocean, 
with its gates, where the women Sabitu and Siduri keep eternal 
watch, is the Oceanos of Homeric legend. Naturally the impress 
made by Babylonian mythology upon the western Semites was 
deeper than that which it made upon the Greeks. An echo of the 
war waged between Merodach and the powers of chaos and dark- 
ness, headed by the dragon of the sea, the seven-headed " serpent of 
night," still survives in the Apocalypse. The sacred tree, with its 
guardian cherubs, as well as the flaming sword of the lightning, 
with its fifty points and seven heads, recall biblical analogies; and 
the legend of the plague demon Dibbarra brings to our remem- 
brance the vision of David when the angel of pestilence hovered 
over Jerusalem. 

1 Khumbaba appears as Kombabos in Lucian, " De Dea Syria," 19-26. 



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Chapter IV 

ARTS AND GENERAL CULTURE 

THE art of Assyria was the copy and offspring of that of 
Babylonia. At the same time the copy was a free one, and 
in many points differed very materially from its model. The 
difference was caused in part by the want of stone in Babylonia and 
its abundance in Assyria. In Babylonia brick had to take the place 
of stone ; stone, in fact, was costly, and used only for such objects 
as seals and signets, for boundary-marks and royal statues. It is 
a curious illustration of the servile dependence of Assyria upon 
Babylonia in artistic matters, that up to the last brick was largely 
used there in the construction of the royal palaces, in spite of its 
rapid decay and the ease with which stone might have been pro- 
cured. Slabs of alabaster were nevertheless employed to line the 
walls, and where, therefore, the Babylonians were forced to have 
recourse to painting, the Assyrians made a liberal use of sculpture 
in relief. 

The existing remains of Babylonian and Assyrian architecture 
are further distinguished by the religious character of the one and 
the secular character of the other. The attention which was pri- 
marily devoted to the construction of temples in Babylonia was 
devoted to the construction of palaces in Assyria. The temple in 
Assyria was a mere appendage of the palace, whereas in the sister 
kingdom, while the only palaces of which we know are those of 
the dynasty of Nebuchadrezzar, the site of every great city is 
marked by the ruins of its temples. Hence the general style of 
architecture was different, the temple, with its huge masses of 
brickwork, rising stage upon stage, each brilliantly painted and 
surmounted by a chamber which was at once a shrine and an ob- 
servatory, while the palace was built upon a heap of rubble, with 
open courts and imposing entrances, but never more than two or 
three stories high. 

Columnar architecture had its natural home upon the banks 
of the Euphrates. Wood and brick had to take the place of stone, 

109 



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BABYLONIA AND ASSYRIA 108 

and naturally suggested the employment of the column, which soon 
became a mere ornament and developed into a great variety of 
forms. Colored half-columns were used in the temple of Ur-Gur 
at Erech for decorative purposes long ages before they were em- 
ployed in the same way by Sargon at Khorsabad, and it is perhaps 
to Babylonia and Assyria rather than to Egypt that we must trace 
the Doric and Ionic pillars of Greece. But the chasteness of Greek 
taste preserved it from the many fantastic forms into which the 
column branched out in Babylonia and Assyria, where we find it 
resting with a circular base on the backs of lions, dogs, and winged 
bulls. 

While the column thus became an ornament rather than a 
support, the buttresses against which the early Chaldean temples 
rested never lost their original character. Like the walls, they were 
covered with plaster and painted with bright colors or overlaid with 
plates of shining metal. Enameled bricks, which were first painted, 
then glazed, and finally baked in the fire, were often used for the 
purpose; sometimes, as at Warka, we see cones of various colors 
and imbedded in plaster taking their place. The rain was carried 
off by elaborately constructed drains, some of which afford us the 
earliest examples of the arch, and which occasionally consisted of 
leaden pipes. 

In Assyria sculpture was used in the stead of painting, al- 
though the bas-reliefs were judiciously picked out with red, blue, 
black, and white colors, none of which, however, were of the same 
brilliancy as the colors used in Babylonia. This use of color to 
heighten the effect of sculpture, which we find also in Egypt, was 
adopted by the Greeks, who probably derived it, with so many other 
elements of art, from the cultured populations of the Euphrates 
valley. Assyrian sculpture in relief may be said to have passed 
through three phases of development. The first phase, best repre- 
sented by the reign of Ashur-nazir-pal, is characterized by a sim- 
plicity and vigor which shows itself especially in the drawing of 
animal forms. Nothing, for instance, can be bolder and more life- 
like than a scene in which the monarch is depicted hunting lions; 
but the freshness and freedom of the work are marred by an almost 
total want of perspective, an absence of delicacy in the execution, 
and a servile minuteness in reproducing the outlines. No attempt 
is made to fill in the background. The second phase lasts from 
the beginning of the Second Empire to the reign of Esarhaddon, 



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104 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

and was doubtless influenced by the delicate work in bronze and 
ivory executed by the Phoenician settlers in Nineveh. The care 
formerly expended on the chief figures is now extended to the 
background, which is finished with a pre-Raphaelite minuteness 
that reminds us of elaborate embroidery. What has been lost in 
vigor is gained in richness, though the realism of the work is too 
obtrusive to allow it to be examined with microscopic eyes. The 
reign of Ashur-bani-pal marks the third and best phase of As- 
syrian art in relief. Drawing has much improved, and the sculp- 
tures furnish several instances of successful foreshortening. The 
exactitude with which animal and vegetable forms are represented 
is relieved by a general softness of tone, while the overcrowding 
of the previous period is avoided by a recurrence to the earlier 
mode of leaving the background bare, or else by introducing merely 
the outlines of a landscape. Nevertheless, the art shows symptoms 
of the same effeminacy and decay that strike us also in the choice 
of subjects. Scenes are taken for the first time from the harem; 
and in contrast with the lion hunts of a former age in the open 
field, Ashur-bani-pal is made to enjoy the pleasures of a royal 
battue, where tame lions are let out of their cages and whipped 
into activity. 

Admirable as the Assyrian artists were when they sculptured 
in relief, they failed altogether as soon as they came to the round. 
Here the artists of Babylonia much surpassed them. In Baby- 
lonia stone was too precious to be used for other than decorative or 
legal purposes, and the largest stones procurable were blocks of 
black basalt or diorite, which could be carved into statues, but not 
cut up into slabs. Statuary of a certain kind, therefore, flourished 
there from the earliest epoch. But it was always heavy, the figures 
being represented in a sitting posture, though much skill was shown 
in the delineation of the face. On the other hand, the carved 
gems are often very good, a spirit of humor and light-heartedness 
appearing in them which we look for in vain in Assyria. Gem- 
cutting, in fact, originated in Babylonia, and thence spread through 
the Western world. Though frequently rude, the very earliest 
intaglios are invariably clear and vigorous. Emery must have been 
used in their manufacture, and the work is sometimes extremely 
fine. 

The Babylonians were also skilled in terra-cotta and bronze 
work. The terra-cotta and bronze images of King Gudea are 



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BABYLONIA AND ASSYRIA 105 

quite astonishing when we consider their antiquity. Spirited bas- 
reliefs in terra-cotta have been found at Senkereh, and many of 
the vases made by the ancient potters display great beauty of form, 
and must plainly have been modeled on the wheel, though the ma- 
jority are handmade and rude. Assyrian pottery is also very good, 
but the native work in bronze is poor. The bronze gates of Bala- 
wat, for example, where the bas-reliefs have all been hammered 
out from behind and then chiseled, belong to the infancy of art, 
though the forms are bold and vigorous. The engraved bronze 
bowls and similar objects found at Nineveh were the work of 
Phoenicians. 

Babylonia was celebrated from the first for the manufacture of 
textile fabrics, and the oldest gems furnish us with specimens of 
richly embroidered dresses. Goldsmiths' work, too, had already 
attained a high perfection at a very early period. At a later epoch 
the Assyrians equally excelled in metallurgy, and their bronze 
casts, as distinguished from hammer-work in relief, are of a high 
order of merit Their gold earrings and bracelets are admirable 
both in design and in workmanship, and so well were they ac- 
quainted with the art of inlaying one metal with another that our 
modern artists have been content to learn from them the method of 
covering iron with bronze. Their chairs and other articles of 
household furniture are equally worthy of imitation. Besides por- 
celain, they were acquainted with glass, though transparent glass 
does not seem to have come into use before the age of Sargon. 
Colored glass was known at a much earlier date. 

But the Assyrians had none of that love of brilliant colors 
which characterized their neighbors in the south. Though the in- 
troduction of vegetable forms into their bas-reliefs shows that 
their art was less intensely human than that of the Greeks, they 
were never led to cultivate the gardens for which Babylon was re- 
nowned. It was Babylonia, again, and not Assyria, that was 
famous for the manufacture of dyed and variegated stuffs. 

Iron was little used in the earlier period. On the other hand, 
besides stone implements, bronze and copper weapons and tools 
were largely in use, and bronze bowls are found in nearly all the 
early tombs, fashioned sometimes with considerable skill. 

Of Babylonian and Assyrian music little is known beyond the 
fact that there were different instruments for producing it. 

The Assyro-Babylonian system of writing was the invention 



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106 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

of the Sumerians and was by them passed on to their Semitic con- 
querors, who modified and adapted it to the needs of their own 
language. It seems to have originated in a sort of rude pictog- 
raphy, like that employed by the American Indians, but long before 
the historical period the individual characters had been so conven- 
tionalized as to obscure the resemblance to the primitive pictog- 
raphy, and a combined ideographic and phonetic system had been 
developed. At a very early period the art of writing was exten- 
sively practiced, and was applied to the purposes of every day life- 
Clay was plentiful, and the writing paper of the ancient Baby- 
lonians was mostly of clay. The characters were impressed with a 
wooden stylus upon clay tablets (the laterculce coctiles of Pliny), 
which were then baked in the sun, or, where greater durability was 
desired, in a kiln. Inscriptions were also frequently carved upon 
slabs of stone, stamped on bricks, or incised upon plates of metal, 
seals, gems, and other objects. In the earliest inscriptions the 
characters are made up of linear strokes, and there is no trace of 
the wedge-like element which later became so characteristic as to 
give its name to the system, causing it to be known as "cunei- 
form " or " wedge writing." This peculiarity, in fact, is by no 
means inherent in the system, but is due to the character of the 
writing material employed and to the form of the stylus. For 
practical reasons, the sharp corner of the stylus was used in writ- 
ing and this, impressed in the soft clay, produced a wedge-like 
stroke. 

The great abundance and cheapness of clay led to its gen- 
eral use for writing purposes, and thus the old linear charac- 
ters, through the prevailing analogy, were in time entirely super- 
seded by cuneiform characters, even in inscriptions sculptured upon 
stone where the same causes did not operate. When the Semites 
borrowed the Sumerian system of writing a great extension was 
given to the phonetic element, the sounds which expressed words 
in Sumerian becoming mere phonetic values in the Semitic sylla- 
bary. Hence the same character can denote more than one syllabic 
sound, and at the same time can be used ideographically. 

Although Sumerian, after the Semitic conquest, was replaced 
in vernacular use by the tongue of the invaders, it continued to be 
employed as the sacred ritual language of the Babylonian tem- 
ples down to the Macedonian period, and a knowledge of it was 
required of every priest. In order to facilitate its study syllabaries, 



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BABYLONIA AND ASSYRIA 107 

grammars, vocabularies, and reading books were drawn up in 
Sumerian and Semitic, and the old Sumerian texts were accom- 
panied by interlinear translations, sometimes arranged in a parallel 
column. That great attention was bestowed upon the cultivation 
of the ancient tongue by the Babylonian priestly scholars is evi- 
denced by the very large number of such texts that have been 
found. It is also clear that a considerable proportion of the 
Sumerian hymns and magical texts that have come down to us 
were composed in later times by writers who had acquired the 
language as a learned accomplishment, and whose Sumerian dic- 
tion is strongly influenced by their own Semitic speech and en- 
vironment. The language of such compositions has, in fact, been 
quite aptly compared to the corrupt Latinity of the medieval 
monks. 

From the earliest period the literature of Chaldea was stored 
in the archive chambers of the temples, which served at the same 
time as repositories for deeds and other legal documents. Thus 
every great temple had its library, and the accumulation of literary 
treasures in these centers of learning must, in course of time, have 
attained very considerable proportions. The most famous of the 
Babylonian libraries were those of Erech, Larsa, and Ur, and 
(after the Semitic conquest) of Agade. The older library of Baby- 
lon perished for the most part when the town was destroyed by 
Sennacherib. Scribes were kept busily employed in copying and 
reediting old texts, and more rarely in preparing new ones. The 
copies were made with scrupulous care, and an illegible character 
or word was denoted by the statement that there was a " lacuna," 
or a " recent lacuna," while attention was drawn to the breakage of 
a tablet. When an Assyrian scribe was in doubt as to the mean- 
ing of a character in his Babylonian copy, he either reproduced 
it or gave it two or more possible equivalents in the Assyrian 
syllabary. 

The libraries established by the Assyrian kings at Asshur, 
Calah, and Nineveh were formed in imitation of those of Baby- 
lonia. Here, however, they were placed, not in the temples, but 
in the royal palace among the state archives. Ashur-bani-pal espe- 
cially seems to have been a zealous patron of letters, and by his 
orders copies of ancient texts dealing with every department of 
literature were gathered from the principal temples of Babylonia. 
His library was discovered, in the ruins of his palace at Nineveh, 



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108 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

by Hormuzd Rassam in 1854, and from it more than twenty 
thousand tablets or portions of tablets were recovered and removed 
to the British Museum. 

The literature contained in these libraries comprised every 
branch of learning known at the time. Historical and mythological 
documents; religious compositions; legal, geographical, astronomi- 
cal, and astrological treatises; magical formulae and omen tablets; 
poems, fables, and proverbs ; grammatical and lexical disquisitions ; 
lists of stones and trees, of birds and beasts, of tribute and 
eponyms; copies of treaties, of commercial transactions, of corre- 
spondence, of petitions to the king, of royal proclamations, and of 
dispatches from generals in the field — all were represented. The 
mythological and religious literature was particularly extensive and 
interesting. Along with the latter must be classed certain peniten- 
tial hymns, which may favorably compare with the Hebrew psalms. 
Thus in one of them we read : "Omy God, my transgression is 
great, my sins are many ... I seek for help, but no one 
takes my hand; I weep, but no one comes to my side. I cry aloud, 
but no one hears me. Full of woe, I grovel in the dust and do not 
raise my eyes. To my merciful God I turn for help with sighs; 
the feet of my goddess I embrace with tears." Among the fables 
may be mentioned a dialogue between the ox and the horse, of 
which several copies exist, and an interesting tablet in the Brit- 
ish Museum contains a small collection of riddles and proverbial 
sayings. 

Folklore was more poorly represented than mythology, 
though some specimens of it have been preserved. It was the great 
epics and mythological poems, however, which naturally occupied 
the chief place in each library. A fragmentary catalogue of them 
has come down to us along with the reputed authors of these 
standard works. Thus the Epic of Gilgamesh was ascribed to a 
certain Sin-liki-unnini ; the legend of Etana to Amel-Sin ; the story 
of the fox to Ibni-Marduk, the son of Amel-mar-rubi. Among the 
works thus catalogued is the famous Epic of Gilgamesh, an ancient 
Babylonian hero who has been identified with the biblical Nimrod. 
The arrangement of the poem, in its present form, is based upon 
an astronomical principle, the subject-matter of each of its twelve 
books corresponding with the name of a zodiacal sign. The lion 
is slain, for instance, under the zodiacal Leo, the sign of Virgo 
answers to the wooing of the hero by Ishtar, and the sign of 



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BABYLONIA AND ASSYRIA 109 

Aquarius to the episode of the Deluge. Perhaps the most beautiful 
of these early legends is that which describes the descent of Ishtar 
into Hades in search of her husband, the Sun-god Tammuz, slain 
by the boar's tusk of winter. The legend curiously survives in a 
moral form in the Talmud, where Ishtar has been changed into the 
demon of lust. 

Science was chiefly represented by astronomy, which had its 
first home in the plains of Chaldea. But it soon connected itself 
with the pseudo-science of astrology, the false assumption having 
been made that whatever event had been observed to follow a par- 
ticular celestial phenomenon would recur if the phenomenon hap- 
pened again. Observatories were established in all the chief towns, 
and astronomers-royal were appointed, who had to send regular 
reports to the king. At an early date the stars were grouped into 
constellations which were named from their fancied resemblance to 
various animals; the zodiacal signs had been mapped out while 
the vernal equinox still fell in Taurus; and eclipses of the sun and 
moon had been found to recur after a certain fixed time, and were 
consequently calculated and looked for. The equator was divided 
into degrees, sixty being the unit, as in other departments of 
mathematics. Lists of the fixed stars have been found in the 
library of Ashur-bani-pal, and fragments of a planisphere, which 
marks the appearance of the sky at the vernal equinox, are now in 
the British Museum. 

The year was reckoned to consist of twelve lunar months of 
thirty days each, intercalary months being counted in by the priests 
when this was found necessary. The year began on the first day 
of the month Nisan, in the spring, and New Year's Day was cele- 
brated as a high religious festival. The night was originally 
divided into three watches, but this was afterward superseded by 
the more accurate division of the day into twelve casbu, or " dou- 
ble hours," corresponding to the divisions of the equator, each 
casbu of two hours being further subdivided into sixty minutes, 
and these again into sixty seconds. Time was measured, at all 
events at a later epoch, by means of the clepsydra, and the gnomon 
or dial was a Babylonian invention. So also was the week of seven 
days, which was closely connected with the early astronomical 
studies of the Babylonians, the days of the week being dedicated to 
the moon, sun, and five planets. In a calendar of the intercalary 
month of Elul, the 7th, 14th, 19th, 21st, and 28th days are desig- 



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110 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

nated as evil or unlucky. The introduction here of the 19th day 
does not really interrupt the evident connection of these unlucky 
days with the mystic number seven, since 19, added to the 30 days 
of the preceding month, gives 49, the square of seven and a num- 
ber of special potency in magic and divination. On these days the 
king, as the representative of the people, was forbidden to eat food 
cooked with fire, to change his dress or wear white robes, to offer 
sacrifice, to ride in a chariot, to legislate, to practice augury, or even 
to use medicine. The month was further divided into two halves 
of fifteen days each, these being again subdivided into three periods 
of five days. 

The standard work on astronomy and astrology was that in 
seventy-two books, of which the oldest portions may date from 
the time of Sargon of Agade, and entitled the observations of Bel. 
It was subsequently translated into Greek by Berosos. The table 
of contents shows that it treated of various matters — eclipses, 
comets, the pole star, the phases of Venus and Mars, the conjunc- 
tion of the sun and moon, the changes of the weather, and the 
like. After each observation comes the event which was believed 
to have happened in connection with it, and the number of these 
observations shows for how long a period they must have been 
accumulating. 

The attention given to astronomy presupposes a considerable 
advance in mathematics. This in fact was the case. The system 
of ciphers was a comparatively easy one to handle, and was simpli- 
fied by the habit of understanding the multiple 60 in expressing 
high numbers — IV., for instance, denoting 4 x 60 = 240. Sixty 
was also the unexpressed denominator of a fraction, 1 Vs being 
represented by I.XL., i. e. f 1 40 /eo« A tablet from the library of 
Larsa gives a table of squares and cubes correctly calculated from 
1 to 60, and a series of geometrical figures used for augural pur- 
poses implies the existence of a Babylonian Euclid. Even the plan 
of an estate outside the gate of Zamama at Babylon, in the time 
of Nebuchadrezzar, has been discovered which shows no mean 
knowledge of surveying. Some acquaintance with mechanics is 
evidenced by the use of the lever and pulley ; the Assyrian sculptures 
depict the transportation of colossal statues, weighing many tons, 
on sledges drawn with ropes over wooden rollers; and Rassam, 
the Turkish Assyriologist, has discovered on the site of Babylon 
remains of the hydraulic machinery used for watering the hanging 



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BABYLONIA AND ASSYRIA 111 

gardens of Nebuchadrezzar. From the earliest times the heal- 
ing art was cultivated in Babylonia, where it was regarded as a 
most important science. Portions of a number of medical works 
have been found, and it is evident that the literature of the subject 
must once have been very extensive. Surgery also was early prac- 
ticed, and about 2250 b. c. Hammurabi found it necessary to in- 
troduce into his famous code special provisions for the discour- 
agement of rash operations, and at the same time to establish a fee 
table. 

The ideas of that primitive epoch, when as yet astronomy in its 
simplest form was unknown, survived in the popular mythology. 
The world was conceived as a great convex hemisphere, hollow 
within, and above it was spread the canopy of heaven conforming 
to its rounded outline. Both heaven and earth rested upon the 
Apsu or watery abyss, which also filled the hollow interior of the 
earth. Each of these divisions was ruled by a special deity; the 
heavens were under the dominion of Anu, the earth was the domain 
of Bel, while the Apsu was the realm of Ea, the god of the deep 
and the lord of unfathomable wisdom. Eclipses were caused by 
the war of the seven evil spirts or storm demons against the moon, 
and a long poem tells how Shamash and Ishtar fled to the upper 
heaven of Anu when the war began, and how Merodach had finally 
to come to the rescue of the troubled moon. 

As already stated, the original Sumenan inhabitants of Baby- 
lonia spoke a language of the agglutinative type, characterized by 
vowel harmony, the use of postpositions to indicate the cases of 
the noun, and the incorporation of the pronominal verbal object. 
It was formerly classed with the Turanian or Ural-Altaic family of 
speech, but this view has never been satisfactorily established, and it 
is now admitted that the linguistic affinities of Sumerian have yet to 
be discovered. The Semitic language known as Assyrian consisted 
of the two dialects, Babylonian and Assyrian, which differed chiefly 
in the pronunciation of certain consonants. The archaic and fin- 
ished character of its grammar, and the fullness of its vocabulary, 
make it the Sanskrit of the Semitic tongues. The literary dialect 
underwent little change during the very long period that we can 
trace its career, the result being that it came to differ very con- 
siderably from the language of everyday life spoken at Nineveh or 
Babylon in later times. Aramaic became the lingua franca of 
trade and diplomacy after the overthrow of Tyre and Sidon under 



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118 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

the Second Assyrian Empire, and in course of time gradually 
superseded the older language of the country. In Babylonia, how- 
ever, this did not happen until after the Persian conquest. 

Law was highly developed in Chaldea from an early period, 
and a large number of the precedents of an Assyrian judge, like 
the titles on which he had to decide, went back to the Sumerian 
epoch, and the very ancient Sumerian family laws show us that the 
mother occupied a prominent place in the community. The oldest 
complete code of laws that has been preserved was formulated by 
Hammurabi about 2250 b. c, and continued to form the basis of 
Babylonian and Assyrian law down to the fall of both empires. This 
famous code embodied the needs of a settled community whose chief 
occupations were agriculture and commerce. The rights of persons 
and of property were clearly ascertained and carefully guarded. 
Crime was punished severely, especially where committed against 
religion or against the state. Class distinction was deeply rooted, 
and, in cases of injury, the penalty varied in accordance with the 
rank of the injured party. Marriage and the family were the sub- 
ject of wise provisions. A Babylonian married woman was no 
mere chattel, but had very clearly defined rights which could not be 
set aside. Inheritance was regulated by special enactments, and 
the interests of widows and orphans were duly protected. The 
regulations affecting mercantile affairs show that the commerce of 
the country was highly developed, and that its merchants had ex- 
tensive connections with other lands. Judges were appointed 
throughout the kingdom, and forbidden to accept bribes, while 
prisons were established in every town. 

As in Attica, the boundaries of property were marked by 
stela, which often contain inscriptions yielding historical infor- 
mation of great value ; and deeds were drawn up on tablets, often 
enclosed in an outer coating of clay, and registered in the principal 
temple of the neighborhood. These deeds were duly witnessed and 
sealed. Sennacherib has left behind a sort of will, in which he 
leaves certain property to his favorite son, Esarhaddon. The tax- 
payers were divided into burghers and aliens, some of the taxes 
being paid for the use of the public brickyards and roads. In the 
time of the Second Assyrian Empire municipal taxes and the 
tribute of subject states formed an important part of the imperial 
revenue. 

Trade and commerce were the creation of the Semites, and 



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RZPRODUCTION OF A PORTION OF THE TEXT OF THE DDZ OF HAM Ml/RAM, KING 
OF BABYLON, ABOUT 22$0 B. C. 



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BABYLONIA AND ASSYRIA 118 

were particularly active in the later days of the Assyrian monarchy. 
The trade of Assyria was mainly overland — that of Babylonia may 
have been partly maritime. The teak found at Mugheir proves 
that it extended as far as India; on the other side wares came 
from the coasts and islands of Asia Minor, from Egypt, and from 
southern Arabia. Coined money, however, was as yet unknown, 
and the mina of Carchemish, aftqr the capture of that city, was 
made the standard of weight. Houses were let on lease, and the 
deeds which conveyed them gave a careful inventory of their con- 
tents. A house sold at Nineveh on the 16th of Sivan, or May, 
692 b. c, fetched one mina of silver, or forty-nine dollars, the 
average price of a slave. The records of the Egibi banking firm 
discovered in Babylonia extend from the reign of Nebuchadrezzar to 
that of Darius Hystaspis ; the deeds were kept in large jars, and, like 
the Rothschilds of modern days, the firm increased its wealth by 
lending money to kings. The father generally took his sons into 
partnership during his lifetime. 

Agriculture occupied a prominent place both in Babylonia and 
in Assyria. The Mesopotamia region, though rainless, is one of 
unusual fertility owing to the Tigris and Euphrates, which an- 
nually inundate the plain. This overflowing is as regular as that 
of the Nile in Egypt. Toward the Caspian Sea, however, the 
banks of the two rivers narrow and the inhabitants of the country 
early found it necessary to counteract the current by dams and irri- 
gating canals and ditches. The canals were a matter of special 
importance, and their management was superintended by the state. 
Market gardeners might lease the ground of richer proprietors, and 
the tenant had to give one-third of the produce to the owner. The 
country was covered with gardens; Merodach-baladan has left us 
a list of no less than seventy-three belonging to himself. At an 
earlier date Tiglath-Pileser I., in imitation of the Babylonian 
princes, tried to acclimatize in royal botanical gardens some of the 
trees he had met with in his campaigns ; but his example does not 
seem to have been followed. 

Our knowledge of Assyro-Babylonian administration is too 
slight to allow us to say more of it than that the government was 
an absolute monarchy, the court consisting of a large number of 
officials who owed their rank to the king. After the time of Tig- 
lath-Pileser III. the subject provinces were placed under satraps, 
the cities of the empire being governed by prefects. Besides the 



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114 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

turtanu (turtan), or commander in chief, who stood on the king's 
right, there were other military officers, such as the rob shake or 
general, the rab kisir, " colonel " or " major," " the captain of 
fifty/' and "the captain of ten." Among the chief officials of 
state may be mentioned the vizier, the secretary of state, and the 
prefect of the palace. The sons of noble families were often placed 
at court as pages, and hosts of officials were attached to the per- 
sonal service of the king. They included eunuchs, chamberlains, 
priests of various classes, astrologers, physicians, and musicians. 



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THE PHOENICIANS 



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THE PHOENICIANS 

Chapter I 

ETHNOLOGY AND HISTORY 

A BOUT the middle of the third millennium b. c. the same 
L\ wave of Semitic migration that placed the ancestors of 
JL JL Hammurabi upon the throne of Babylon established a 
kindred branch of the Semitic race on the western coast of Asia. 
A narrow, but fertile, strip of land, from 10 to 15 miles in breadth 
and 150 in length, shut in between the snow-clad peaks of Lebanon 
and the sea, and stretching from the Bay of Antioch to the 
promontory of Carmel. was the home of the Phoenicians. They 
called it Canaan, "the lowlands," a name which was afterward 
extended to denote the whole district of Palestine inhabited by 
kindred tribes. 

According to Genesis, Sidon, " the fishing city," was the first- 
born of Canaan. Native legends, however, claimed an older foun- 
dation for the sacred city of Gebal or Byblos, northward of Beyrut. 
Beyrut itself, the Berytos of classical writers, was dependent on 
Gebal, and along with it formed a distinct territory in the midst 
of the Phoenician states. These consisted of nine chief cities, Akko 
(now Acre), Achzib or Ekdippa (now Zib), Tyre (now Sur), 
Sidon (now Saida), Botrys (now Batrun), Tripolis (now Tarabo- 
lus), Marathus (now Amrit), Arvad or Aradus and Antaradus 
(now Ruad and Tartus), and Ramantha or Laodikeia (now Lada- 
kiyeh). With these may be counted Zemar or Simyra (now 
Sumra), to the north of Tripolis, inhabited by an independent tribe, 
like Arka (now Tel Arka). The country is watered by rivers, six 
of which were invested with divine attributes like the mountains 
from which they flowed. The Eleutheros (Nahr-el-Kebir) in the 
north is follow by the Adonis (Nahr-el-Ibrahim), by whose banks 
the women of Byblos lamented the dead Sun-God Tammuz; the 
Lykos (Nahr-el-Kelb), where Egyptian, Assyrian, and Babylonian 
conquerors have erected their memorials; the Tamyras (Nahr- 

117 



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118 



ANCIENT EMPIRES 



Damur) ; the Bostrenos (Nahr-el-Awaly) ; and the Belos (Nahr- 
Naman). 

With the mountains in their rear the inhabitants of the 
Phoenician cities were driven to the sea. They became fishermen, 
traders, and colonists. First Cyprus, called Kittim from the town 
of Kition, was colonized; then Rhodes, Thera, Melos, and other 
islands of the JEgean; then came the settlements on the coasts of 
Greece itself, in Sicily and Sardinia, and on the northern shores 
of Africa ; and finally the colonies of Karteia, near Gibraltar, and 
Gades or Cadiz, which led the adventurous emigrants into the waters 




CASTtRN HUMTCIKANCW 
PHOENICIA 



of the unknown Atlantic. Karteia lay in the district of Tarshish 
or Tartessos, long the extreme western boundary both of Phoe- 
nician voyages and of the known world. But before the sixth 
century b. c. the Phoenicians had not only penetrated to the north- 
western coast of India, but probably to the island of Britain 
as well. 

Tradition brought them originally from the Persian Gulf, 
and the similarity of name caused the island of Tylos or Tyros, now 
Bahrein, to be named as the country from which the forefathers of 
the Tyrians had come. The tradition pointed to a fact. The close 



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THE PHOENICIANS 119 

resemblance between the Phcenico-Hebrew and Assyro-Babylonian 
languages proves that the speakers of them must have lived together 
for some time after their separation from the rest of their Semitic 
kindred, as does also the common possession of such deities as 
Malik or Moloch, Baal or Bel, Adad or Rimmon, and Dagon. 
Most of the tribes comprehended under the title of Canaanites in 
the Old Testament were closely related to the Phoenicians, while 
the Hittites belonged to a different stock from the Semites. The 
Hebrews themselves, if we may trust the evidence of language, 
physiognomy, and character, though later arrivals in the land, had 
the same ancestors as the Phoenicians, and at the time of the con- 
quest of Canaan only differed from the people they expelled in 
being rude nomads, instead of cultivated citizens. It is nevertheless 
possible that intermarriage with the aborigines of the country — a 
race of whom we know but little — had produced a modification of 
type and character among the natives of Phoenicia; but if so, the 
modification was not great. Toward the north the Phoenicians were 
affected by contact with their cousins, the Arameans or Syrians, 
who occupied Damascus and the southern coast of the Orontes. 

Sidon and Tyre alike consisted of two towns. Those of Sidon 
were both on the mainland, and were known as the Less and the 
Greater; those of Tyre were distinguished as insular Tyre and 
Palaetyros. Palaetyros stood on the coast, and, if we may trust its 
name, was older than the city which occupied a double island at 
a little distance from the shore, and eventually claimed supremacy 
over it. But insular Tyre was of itself of early foundation, since 
the great temple of Baal Melkarth, the Phoenician Herakles, which 
rose on the eastern side of the smaller island, was built, as the priests 
told Herodotos, 2300 years before his time, or about 2750 b. c. ; and 
the name Tyre itself — Tsor in Phoenician— denoted the " rock " on 
which the insular city stood. When it was visited by the Egyptian 
Mohar in the time of Ramses II. the water drunk by its inhabitants 
had all to be conveyed from the mainland in boats. Arvad or 
Aradus was similarly on an island, and held rule over the two cities 
of the neighboring coast, Marathos and Karne. Gebal had orig- 
inally been built inland, on the northern bank of the Nahr-el-Kelb, 
before its inhabitants migrated to the shore. 

For centuries before the settlement of the Phoenicians upon the 
Mediterranean coast the land had been under the dominion of 
Babylon. It formed part of the empire of Sargon of Agade, who 



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120 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

also conquered Cyprus and set up his royal image there, and, in the 
time of Hammurabi (about 2250 b. a), it was still a Babylonian 
province. Through their long dependence upon the great metropolis 
of Western Asia, Phoenicia and Palestine were thoroughly imbued 
with Babylonian culture, and as late as the fourteenth century b. c. 
the Babylonian language and the Babylonian system of writing 
formed the medium of general intercourse among the peoples on 
the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. 

The Phoenicians were an eminently receptive people. Like the 
rest of their Semitic brethren, they lacked originality, but they were 
gifted beyond most other races with the power of assimilating and 
combining, of adapting and improving on their models. Phoenician 
art derives its origin from Babylonia, from Egypt, and in later times 
from Assyria; but it knew how to combine together the ele- 
ments it had received, and to return them, modified and im- 
proved, to the countries from which they had been borrowed. The 
Phoenicians were the most skillful workmen of the ancient world, 
and the empire of the Euphrates, which had first taught them the 
art of gem cutting, of pottery making, and of dyeing embroidery, 
was glad to learn in turn from its pupils. Already, in the age of 
Thothmes III., we see the Phoenicians on the walls of Rekhmara's 
tomb at Thebes bringing as tribute vases with animals' heads, simi- 
lar to those found at Rhodes and Hissarlik, and clad in richly em- 
broidered kilts. But the most precious acquisition of the Phoenicians 
was the alphabet, which they seem to have developed from the 
Babylonian script so long in use among them — all the incumbrances 
of the cuneiform system of writing being discarded by a people who 
possessed the practical habits of traders and merchants. Through 
the commercial relations of its inventors it found its way to Greece 
and was thence disseminated through the Western world. 

The Phoenicians were the intermediaries of ancient civiliza- 
tion. It was they who inaugurated the trade of the West, and their 
trading voyages carried the art, the culture, and the knowledge they 
themselves possessed to the other nations of the Mediterranean. 
Modern research has abundantly confirmed the tradition embodied 
in the opening page of the history of Herodotos, that the chief 
elements of early Greek art and civilization came from Assyria 
through the hands of the Phoenicians. 

But the influence of Phoenicia was exercised differently at dif- 
ferent periods in its history. In the early period the influence was 



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THE PHOENICIANS 121 

indirect. It was brought by solitary traders, who trafficked in 
slaves, and above all in that purple fish which formed the staple of 
Phoenician wealth, and whose voyages were intermittent and private. 
This was the period of what we may call Babylonian culture. The 
conquests of the Egyptian monarchs of the eighteenth dynasty 
forced the trading communities of Phoenicia to pay tribute to the 
empire of the Nile, or at times to join in the efforts made to resist 
its further progress in Palestine ; and the result was that Egyptian 
fashions found their way among them, and Phoenician art passed 
into its Egyptianizing phase. Meanwhile the population had been 
increasing along with wealth and prosperity, new regions had been 
explored by adventurous voyagers, and experiments in colonization 
had been made on the coasts of Cyprus and the Delta. The same 
mountain chain which had originally forced the inhabitants of Phoe- 
nicia to the sea now induced them to relieve the pressure of popu- 
lation by sending out organized colonies to conquer and possess the 
more distant lands of the West. Commercial marts were established 
in favorable positions ; Thera and Melos, with their volcanic clay, 
became centers of Phoenician trade in pottery; the gold mines of 
Thasos were worked for Phoenician masters by Greek slaves ; and 
the temple of Astarte rose on the southern headland of Cythera. 
But the ^Egean was not to be the furthest bound of Phoenician colon- 
ization. Settlements were established on the coast of Africa, in 
Sicily, Sardinia, and Corsica, and finally the columns of the Phoe- 
nician Herakles themselves were cleared, and the son of Phoenix 
led a colony to Gadeira, " the walled town," at the very limit of the 
setting sun. 

The influence exercised by these colonies upon the still bar- 
barous nations of the West was necessarily profound. The As- 
syrian character of early Greek art is due to its Phoenician inspira- 
tion. The pottery with which the sites of ancient cities like Mycenae 
and Orkhomenos, or Kameiros in Rhodes, are strewn, was made 
by the Phoenician potters of Thera and Melos. The Greek alphabet, 
as the forms and names of its letters declare, was a Phoenician 
gift. Tradition ascribes it to Cadmus, the founder of Thebes, the 
son of Khna or Canaan, or, as other legends affirmed, of Agenor. 
His wife, Harmonia, seems to typify a Semitic divinity; and the 
serpent into which he was changed is the Serpent-god of Tyre, whose 
image is carved on one of the rocks of Thera. Cadmus himself 
was worshiped not at Thebes only, but at Sparta as well, just as 



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12* ANCIENT EMPIRES 

Melikertes, or Melkarth, remained the deity of the Corinthian 
Isthmus into the historic age. The sacred emblems of the Greek 
divinities — the myrtle, the pomegranate, and the olive — are plants 
that the Phoenicians must have brought with them ; the rites with 
which Demeter Achaea was worshiped bear a Semitic stamp; and 
the attributes of the Hellenic Aphrodite are really those of the As- 
syrian Ishtar, the Phoenician Astarte. Astarte, too, is Europa, the 
daughter of Phoenix, brought to the continent to which she was to 
give a name by the bull-formed Phoenician Baal. The Babylonian 
prototype of the myth of Aphrodite and Adonis, the Phoenician 
Adonai, " lord," has been discovered ; so also have the Babylonian 
Herakles and his twelve labors, as recounted in the great Epic of 
early Chaldea. 

Under the Pharaohs of the eighteenth dynasty the Phoenician 
cities acknowledged the suzerainty of Egypt, and were content to 
pay their tribute in return for the settled order and the protection 
to their commerce afforded by the domination of a strong power. 
These advantages, however, they did not always obtain. The 
bitter contest of Amenophis IV. with the adherents of the orthodox 
religion prevented Egypt from giving due attention to her Syrian 
dependencies, and, as shown by the Amarna Letters, a state of affairs 
little better than anarchy prevailed in Palestine and Phoenicia. At 
this time Gebal, Beyrut, Sidon, Tyre, and Akko are independent 
of each other and are ruled each by its own prince. Arvad is in 
possession of a prince named Aziru, who seems to be extending his 
dominions toward the south, and Rib-Addi of Gebal appeals re- 
peatedly to the Pharaoh for help against him, protesting that, unless 
he receives speedy reinforcements, he must flee for refuge to his 
neighbor, Ammunir of Beyrut. Farther south, Zimrida, King of 
Sidon, besieges Abimilki of Tyre on his island, and the latter writes 
that Usu or Palaetyros is in the hands of the besiegers, and that 
he is reduced to all but desperate straits. On the death of Ameno- 
phis IV. Phoenicia was left to shift for herself and, without union 
and organization, fell readily under the dominion of the Hittites, 
who, in the meantime, had possessed themselves of the mountainous 
country to the rear. After the fall of the Hittite power the 
Assyrians became the controlling force in Western Asia, and, about 
i ioo b. c, Tiglath-Pileser I. is said to have made a voyage on the 
Mediterranean in ships of Arvad. This circumstance would indi- 
cate that northern Phoenicia, at least, recognized the supremacy 



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THE PHOENICIANS 123 

of the rising power; but the death of Tiglath-Pileser was followed 
by a period of Assyrian decline, and for a time the Phoenician cities 
were once more independent. 

In the age of David, Tyre had become the leading city of 
Phoenicia. Hiram, the son of Abibaal, was the friend of both 
David and Solomon, who found an alliance with the wealthy 
trading community of Tyre at once profitable and honorable. 
Phoenician culture was introduced among the rude tribes of Israel, 
and the temple of Jerusalem was built by Phoenician artists, after 
the model of a Phoenician one. Even the two columns or cones at 
the entrance, the symbols of the Sun-god, as well as the brazen sea 
or reservoir, with the twelve solar bulls on which it rested, were re- 
produced in the Jewish sanctuary. The conquest of Edom had 
given David the possession of the Gulf of Akaba, and Tyrian com- 
merce was accordingly able to sail down the Red Sea, hitherto the 
monopoly of the Egyptians, and find its way to Ophir, on the coast 
of Africa, in the modern Rhodesia. Insular Tyre was enlarged 
and strongly fortified, and the temples of Melkarth and Astarte 
beautified and restored. After a reign of thirty-four years Hiram 
died at the age of fifty-three. His grandson, Abd-Ashtoreth, was 
murdered by the sons of his nurse, the eldest of whom usurped the 
throne for twelve years. For a while the legitimate dynasty re- 
turned to power, but Pheles, a brother of Abd-Ashtoreth, was put 
to death by Ethbaal, the priest of Astarte, and with him the line 
of Hiram came to an end. Ethbaal had a long and prosperous 
reign of thirty-two years. His daughter Jezebel married the King 
of Israel, and attempted to break down the barrier of religion which 
separated that country from Phoenicia. But the first cloud of 
danger had already appeared on the horizon. Since the time of 
Ashur-bel-kala, the son of Tiglath-Pileser I., the name of Assyria 
had not been heard in the West; now, however, Ashur-nazir-pal 
marched into the fastnesses of Lebanon, and in 870 b. c- the kings 
of Tyre, Sidon, Gebal, and Arvad offered tribute. Arvad, indeed, 
almost more intimately connected with Syria than the other states 
further south, took part in the battle of Karkar against Shalmaneser 
in 854 b. c. The great-grandson of Ethbaal was Pygmalion, whose 
sovereignty in Cyprus caused his name to become familiar in Greek 
story. Seven years after his accession, at the age of sixteen, he mur- 
dered the regent, his uncle, Sichar-baal, a name corrupted into 
Akerbas and Sichaeus by classical writers. His sister Elissa, the 



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124 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

wife of Sichar-baal, fled with other opponents of the new king, and 
found a home on the coast of Africa, not far from the old Phoenician 
settlement of Utica. The site they chose was named Kartha khada- 
sha, " the new city," a name which has become famous under the 
form of Carthage. Legends soon gathered round the foundress of 
the city. She was identified with Dido, the title under which Astarte 
was worshiped as the consort of the fierce and cruel Moloch ; while 
Anna, " the gracious," the name of Astarte as the giver of life and 
blessing, was made into her sister. Even the Bosrah or " citadel " 
of the new state, where a temple rose to Eshmun, was identified with 
the Greek Bupaa, a " hide," and gave birth to the myth which told 
how Iarbas, the Lybian prince, had been cheated of his land by the 
ox-hide for which he sold it being cut into strips. Carthage was des- 
tined to take the place of Tyre as the mistress of the commerce 
of the Western seas, when the mother city had been ruined by As- 
syria. Pygmalion's reign lasted for forty-seven years, almost down 
to the period when Tyre and Sidon paid tribute to Adad-nirari III. 
When next we hear of Tyre it is under Hiram II., who sent tribute 
to Tiglath-Pileser III. at Arpad in 738 b. c, and is possibly the 
King Hiram mentioned on an ancient broken bronze vase found in 
Cyprus, and deciphered by Clermont-Ganneau. His successor, 
Matgenos II. (Metenna), revolted against Assyria, and was pun- 
ished by a fine of 150 talents in 729 b. c. On his death the Sidonian 
prince, Elulaeus or Luli, was raised to the Tyrian throne. Accord- 
ing to Josephus, who quotes from Menander, the Tyrian annalist, 
he too rebelled against Assyria, and Shalmaneser IV. besieged Tyre 
unsuccessfully for five years, but no such event is mentioned in the 
Assyrian inscriptions. In 701 B. c, however, Sennacherib captured 
both the Greater and Lesser Sidon, as well as Sarepta, Achzib, and 
Acre; and though he was unable to take Tyre, Elulaeus fled to 
Cyprus, where he awaited a favorable opportunity to return. Tubaal 
or Ethbaal was made king of Sidon, and for a while Sidon became 
the leading state in Phoenicia. But the supremacy of Sidon was 
short-lived. Abd-Melkarth, its king, was misguided enough to ally 
himself with Sanduarri of Cilicia, and refuse the homage due to 
Esarhaddon. Sidon was captured and razed, its prince beheaded, 
and a new Sidon built, and stocked with a population brought from 
other parts of the Assyrian Empire. The tide of commerce now 
flowed again into Tyre, and though under Baal I. it joined the 
Egyptian revolt against Assyria toward the close of Esarhaddon's 



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THE PHtENICIANS 125 

reign, it was strong enough to defy all attempts to take it, and 
Ashur-bani-pal was glad to receive its submission on the easy con- 
dition of adding the daughters and nieces of its monarch to the 
harem at Nineveh. When Tyre again saw an enemy before its 
walls, it was the Chaldean army under Nebuchadrezzar. But the 
founder of the Babylonian Empire was no more successful than 
Ashur-bani-pal had been, though he joined the island to the mainland 
by a mole. After a siege of thirteen years, from 598 to 585 b. c, 
he consented to treat with the Tyrian king, Ethbaal, and was thus 
left free to turn his arms against Egypt. On the death of Ethbaal's 
successor royalty was abolished for a time, and the Tyrians elected 
suffetes or judges; but in 557 b. c. the old line of kings was again 
established in the person of Balator. The conquest of Cyprus by 
Amasis seems to have induced the Phoenicians to recognize the 
hegemony of Egypt, but with the rise of the Persian Empire they 
passed over to the new power. The Persians, however, who de- 
pended on Phoenicia for a fleet, allowed the Phoenician states to be 
still governed by their own kings, one of whom, Eshmunazar II., 
the son of Tabnith or Tennes, tells us on his sarcophagus that he 
ruled for fourteen years as " King of the Sidonians," and had built 
temples to Baal, Astoreth, and Eshmun, and been lord of the rich 
cornfields of Dor and Jaffa. The maritime experience of the Phoe- 
nicians made them indispensable to their Persian masters, and when 
they refused to attack Carthage, Kambyses was able neither to ac- 
complish his expedition against that city nor to punish his refractory 
subjects. Their commercial empire, however, had long since de- 
parted. The Dorians had driven them from their possessions in 
the Greek waters, Ionic sailors and colonists had followed them 
to the Pillars of Herakles, the Etruscans had occupied their ports 
in the Tyrrhene Sea, and Assyria had ruined them at home. Their 
power passed to Carthage, which in time avenged them upon the 
Greeks. Sicily and Sardinia once more became Semitic, the Hel- 
lenic states in the former island with difficulty maintaining their 
ground against the admirals of Carthage ; while the northern coast 
of Africa was rendered tributary, and a Carthaginian empire erected 
in Spain. But while the old strength and spirit of Phoenicia thus 
revived in its African colony, the last stronghold of native inde- 
pendence fell before the Greek conqueror Alexander. Tyre was 
besieged by the army that had just overthrown the Persians at 
Issos; the mole made by Nebuchadrezzar — and still to be seen on 



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126 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

the sandy flat which marks the ancient sea-bed between Palsetyros 
and insular Tyre — was reconstructed, and in July, 332 b. c, the 
city, which had defied Assyrian, Babylonian, and Persian, at last 
fell. Thirty thousand of its citizens were sold into slavery, thou- 
sands of others were massacred or crucified, and the wealth of the 
richest and most luxurious city of the world became the prey of 
an exasperated army. Its trade was inherited by its neighbor 
SidoiL 



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Chapter II 

RELIGION AND MYTHOLOGY 

PHOENICIAN religion was typically Semitic. It centered in 
the worship of the Sun-god, adored now as the beneficent 
giver of light and life, now as the stern god of fire and 
summer heat, who must be appeased by human sacrifice. Each 
aspect of the Sun-god had its own name, and became a separate 
divinity. By the side of each stood its reflection and double, that 
female power presupposed by all the operations of nature, as well 
as by the Semitic languages themselves, with their distinction be- 
tween masculine and feminine. Baal, "the lord," therefore, must 
have his consort Baalath, " lady." But just as Baal was the com- 
mon title given to the masculine deity in all his forms, so it was 
rather Ashtoreth than Baalath which was the common title given 
to the female deity. Ashtoreth was also identified with the moon, 
the pale consort of the diurnal sun, and, under the name of Astarte, 
was known to the Greeks as the goddess " with the crescent horns, 
to whose bright image nightly by the moon Sidonian maidens paid 
their vows and songs." Greek mythology, too, knew her as Io 
and Europa, and she was fitly symbolized by the cow whose horns 
resemble the supine lunar crescent as seen in the south. But it 
was as the female power of generation — as pale reflections of the 
Sun-god — that the manifold goddesses of the popular cult were 
included among the Ashtaroth or " Ashtoreths " by the side of the 
Baalim or " Baals." Ashtoreth must be carefully distinguished 
from Asherah, the goddess of fertility, symbolized by the asherim, 
" upright " cones of stone, or bare tree stems, which stood at 
the entrance of a Phoenician temple. Asherah was more particu- 
larly adored among the Canaanites of the south. 

Baal-Samen, " the lord of heaven," called Agenor by the 
Greeks, was the supreme Baal of Phoenicia. But it was rather to 
Baal as the fierce and cruel Moloch or Milcom, the " king," that 
worship was specially paid. Moloch demanded the best and dear- 
est that the worshiper could grant him, and the parent was required 
to offer his eldest or only son as a sacrifice, while the victim's cries 

137 



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128 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

were drowned by the noise of drums and flutes. When Agathokles 
defeated the Carthaginians, the noblest of the citizens offered in 
expiation three hundred of their children to Baal-Moloch. In 
later times a ram (or hart) was substituted for the human offer- 
ing, as we learn from the Phoenician tariffs of sacrifices found at 
Marseilles and Carthage. The priests scourged themselves or 
gashed their arms and breasts to win the favor of the god, and 
similar horrors were perpetrated in the name of Ashtoreth. To 
her, too, boys and maidens were burned, and young men made 
themselves eunuchs in her honor. 

The two aspects of the Sun-god, the baneful and the benefi- 
cent, were united in Baal Melkarth, " the king of the city," the 
patron god of Tyre. Melkarth, Gracized into Melikertes and 
Makar, is a sure sign of Tyrian presence, and his temple at Tyre, 
where he was invoked as Baal Tsor, was the oldest building of the 
city. In his passage through the year Melkarth endured all those 
trials and adventures which Babylonian poets had told of their 
great solar hero, and which, under Phoenician tuition, the Greeks 
subsequently ascribed to their own Herakles. Herakles, in fact, 
is but the Tyrian Melkarth in a Greek dress, and the two pillars 
of rocks which guarded the approach to the ocean the Phoenicians 
had discovered in the West were rightly termed the columns of 
Herakles. The temples of Melkarth were said to have been 
without images, and no women, dogs, or swine were allowed within 
them. The fire that symbolized him burned perpetually on his 
altar, and, under the form of Baal-Khammam, he was worshiped 
as the great deity of solar heat which at once creates and destroys. 
At Carthage the goddess Tanith was his "face" or female 
reflection. 

In early times the Sun-god was invoked as El, "god," or 
" exalted one," and El accordingly became a separate divinity. As 
El Shaddai he was the thunderer, as El Elyon " the most high 
god," of whom Melchizedek was priest. The rationalizing my- 
thology of a later day told how El, the Kronos of Greece, was 
the founder of Gebal, the first of Phoenician cities; how, armed 
with iron sickle and lance, he had driven his father, Uranos (Baal- 
Samen), from the throne; how, in the thirty-second year of his 
reign, he had fertilized the streams by mutilating his sire; how 
he had thrown his brother Atlas ( Atel, " the darkness ") into the 
nether abyss; and how in the time of plague he had burned his 



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THE PHOENICIANS 129 

" only " son, Yeud, on the altar of Uranos, and circumcised himself 
and his companions. An important deity was Tammuz, whose 
name and worship had been carried to Gebal by the first Phoenician 
settlers. Under the title of Adonis (Adonai), "master," he was 
lamented by the women of Byblos in the month of July, when the 
Nahr-Ibrahim runs red with the earth washed down from the 
mountains. 

The rivers themselves were worshiped, and, addressed as Baal, 
were merged into the Sun-god. Thus the Tamyras was adored as 
Baal-Tamar, called by Philo Zeus Demarus, the son of Uranos, 
who ruled over Phoenicia in the days of El along with Astarte and 
Adodos or Hadad, " the king of the gods." The mountains, too, 
were Baalim, the worship of the Sun-god on a mountain peak being 
transferred to the peak itself. On the two mounts Kasios, south- 
ward of Antioch, and again to the north of the Serbonian Lake on 
the African coast, rose the temples of Baal-Zephon, " Baal of the 
north " ; elsewhere we find Baal-Gad, " Baal of good luck," Baal- 
Meon, Baal-Hazor, Baal-Perazim, Baal-Peor. Peniel, "the face 
of El," was a mountain deity, and according to Philo, the fourth 
divine generation consisted of the giants Kasios, Lebanon, and 
Hermon, after whom the mountains were named. But the titles 
and forms under which Baal was adored were not yet exhausted. 
Sometimes he was known as Baal-Shemesh, " the sun," sometimes 
as Baal-Zebub, the oracle god of " flies," the sun being imaged 
as a huge fly ; at other times he was invoked by names as manifold 
as the local cults and individual caprices of the Canaanitish race. 
But the fact that it was everywhere the same deity, the same force 
of nature, that was worshiped, caused the popular polytheism to 
tend toward monotheism ; the Baalim tended to become Baal, sym- 
bolized by a gilded bull. 

There were, indeed, other deities recognized by the Phoeni- 
cians besides the Baalim and Ashtaroth, of whom, however, we know 
but little. Among these may be mentioned the Kabeiri, the mak- 
ers of the world, the founders of civilization, and the inventors of 
ships and medicine. They were represented as dwarfs, the Greek 
word for which, nuynaiot, was confounded with the name of the 
Phoenician god Pugm. The most famous of the Kabeiri was 
Eshmun, " the eighth," identified by the Greeks with their Askle- 
pios, who carried snakes in his hands, and was restored to life 
by Astronoe or Ashtoreth Naamah, after he had mutilated himself 



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130 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

to escape her love. The Kabeiri were originally the seven planets, 
and M. J. Darmesteter has tried to show 1 that they are on the 
one side the " sons of God " of Genesis, and on the other the hus- 
bands of the Lemnian women, slain, according to the Greek story, 
by their wives. It is needless to mention other Phoenician deities, 
such as Sikkun and Mut, " death," of whom we know hardly more 
than the names. 

The character of Phoenician religion and of the people who 
held it was at once impure and cruel. It reflected the sensualism 
of nature. Intoxicated with the frenzy of nature worship under the 
burning sky of the East, the Canaanite destroyed his children, 
maimed himself, or became the victim of consecrated lust. Men 
and women sought to win the favor of heaven by sodomy and 
prostitution, and every woman had to begin life by public prosti- 
tution in the temple of Astarte. The same practice seems to have 
been known in Babylonia. 

Up to the last, customs that had originated in a primitive 
period of Semitic belief survived in Phoenician religion. Stones, 
more especially aerolites, as well as trees, were accounted sacred. 
The stones, after being consecrated by a libation of oil, were called 
BairuXot, or Beth-els, "habitations of God," and regarded as 
filled with the indwelling presence of the Deity. The Kaaba at 
Mecca is a curious relic of this old Semitic superstition, which is 
alluded to in the Gilgamesh Epic of Chaldea, and may have sug- 
gested the metaphor of a rock applied to the Deity in Hebrew 
poetry. Professor Robertson Smith, again, has pointed out that 
numerous traces of an early totemism lasted down into the his- 
torical period of the Semitic race, more especially among the ruder 
nomad tribes of Arabia. 

Tribes were named each after its peculiar totem — an animal, 
plant, or heavenly body — which was worshiped by it and regarded 
as its protecting divinity. The division between clean and unclean 
animals arose out of this ancient totemism, the totem of a tribe 
being forbidden to it as food, or eaten only sacramentally. Ex- 
ogamy and polyandry almost invariably accompany totemism, and 
it is not surprising, therefore, to find clear traces of both among 
the Semites. The member of one tribe was required to marry into 
another. Hence the same family with the same totem might exist 
in different tribes, and the ties of the totem relation were stronger 
than those of blood. David, for instance, belonged to the serpent 
x " Mimoires de la SocictS de Linguistique de Paris" IV. 2 (1880). 



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THE PHtENICIANS 181 

family, as is shown by the name of his ancestor Nahshon, and 
Professor Smith suggests that the brazen serpent found by Heze- 
kiah in the Solomonic temple was the symbol of it We find David 
and the family of Nahash, " or the serpent," the king of Ammon, 
on friendly terms even after the deadly war between Israel and 
Ammon that had resulted in the conquest and decimation of the 
latter. 

One result of the absorbing Baal worship of Phoenicia, and the 
tendency to monotheism it produced, was the rationalizing of the 
old myths which took place in the Greek period. Euhemeros had 
his predecessors in Phoenicia; in fact, it was from Phoenicia that 
he probably derived the principles of his system. In the pages 
of Philo Byblius the gods become men, and the symbolic legends 
told of them are changed into human actions. At the same time, 
with the syncretic spirit of Phoenician art, the gods and myths 
of Syria, of Egypt, and of Greece are all fused together along 
with those of Phoenicia itself. Two systems of cosmogony are 
quoted from him, one of which probably belongs to the school of 
Byblos, the other that of Tyre. According to one of these, the 
wind or breath (Kolpia) brooded over the original chaos (Baau, 
bohu), and produced first Desire and then Mot, the watery element 
which underlies all things. Mot, in the form of an egg 9 generated 
the universe. Then came the first men, jEon and Protogenos. 
Their offspring were Genos (Cain) and Genea, who dwelt in 
Phoenicia and worshiped Baal-Samem. Next followed Phos, Pyr, 
and Phlox, the discoverers of fire; the giants Kasios, Libanos, 
Anti-libanos, and Hermon; and finally Samim-rum, "the most 
high," and Usoos (Esau). Samim-rum lived in Tyre, where he 
built huts and fought with Usoos, the inventor of ships and cloth- 
ing made of the skins of wild beasts, who gave his name to the 
city Hosah. Among their descendants were Khusor, the first 
worker in iron, and his brother Meilikhios, the discoverer of fish- 
hooks, who together invented the art of brickmaking. Afterward 
came the husbandman Agrotes, Sydyk " the righteous," the father 
of the Kabeiri, and Uranos and Ge, the children of Elyon and 
Berytos. One of the sons of the latter was Dagon, the Corn-god, 
and Astarte was his sister. El, the son of Uranos, gave Byblos 
to Beltis, Berytos to the Sea-god, the Kabeiri, and the descendants 
of Agrotes and Halieus; while Egypt fell to Taautos, the Egyp- 
tian Thoth. 



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Chapter III 

ARTS AND GENERAL CULTURE 

PHOENICIAN art, as has been stated, was essentially catholic 
It assimilated and combined the art of Babylonia, of Egypt, 
and of Assyria, superadding, perhaps, something of its 
own, and improving at the same time upon its models. It borrowed 
the rosette and palm leaf from Babylonia, the sphinx from Egypt, 
the cherub from Assyria, but gave to each a form and spirit of its 
own. Its gem cutters came to excel those of Chaldea, its artists 
in bronze and stone those of Assyria, while the sarcophagus of 
Eshmunazar aims at rivaling the massive coffins of Egypt. Its 
decorative art as well as the plan of its temples can best be learned 
from the construction and ornamentation of Solomon's temple at 
Jerusalem. The carved gems and ivories and bronze bowls found 
at Nineveh, or the treasure discovered at Palestrina, the ancient 
Praeneste, are examples of Phoenician workmanship. Everywhere 
we have the same combination of Assyrian and Egyptian elements, 
of scenes copied now from Egyptian paintings, now from Assyrian 
bas-reliefs, sometimes mingled together, sometimes divided into 
separate zones. If we may listen to Clermont-Ganneau, the cen- 
tral medallion of the sculptured bowls gave the first idea of 
money ; at any rate, we know that the bronze vessels of Phoenicia 
were frequently broken up for the purposes of exchange. 

In the early art of Greece, and above all in the art of Cyprus, 
we may trace the outlines and spirit of the art of Phoenicia. We 
shall see hereafter, however, that Phoenician art was but one 
element in the art of primitive Greece, though it was the most 
important one; the other element being the art long supposed to 
be peculiar to Asia Minor, but now traceable to the Hittites. But 
this element was naturally weaker on the Grecian mainland, which 
owed even its alphabet to the Phoenicians, than in the islands. A 
bronze plate like that found at Olympia, the lowest compartment 
of which is occupied by a figure of the winged Astarte, or the pot- 

139 



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THE PHCENICIANS 133 

tery of Mycenae and other prehistoric sites, are the products of 
Phoenician rather than of Hellenic skill. The so-called Corinthian 
or Phcenico-Greek vases, with their quaint animal forms and Baby- 
lonian rosettes, belong to that transition period when Phoenician 
art was passing into Greek. The patterns upon them owe their 
inspiration to the embroidered dresses for which Thera was long 
famous. The earliest attempts at statuary in Greece are Assyro- 
Phoenician, as may be seen from the statues discovered by General 
di Cesnola at Golgoi in Cyprus, or the sitting figures disentombed 
at Brankhidae by Newton; and it seems difficult to believe that 
the genius of Athens so soon transformed these stiff models of 
the Orient into the marvelous creations of a Phidias or a Praxiteles. 
But the art of Homer is still Phoenician in character ; the shield of 
Achilles might have been wrought by one of the artists who have 
left us the bronze bowls of Nineveh. 

In science Phoenicia inherited the discoveries and inventions 
of its neighbors. Glass, according to Pliny, had been an invention 
of the Phoenicians, but there is no proof of this statement, and it 
was certainly known to the Egyptians at a very early date. In 
the art of navigation, however, the Phoenicians no doubt made an 
independent advance. The gaulos, with its high rounded prow 
and stern, the fifty-oar galley, and " the ship of Tarshish," or mer- 
chantman, were the oldest of their vessels, and the Byblians were 
held to be the best shipbuilders, the men of Sidon and Arvad being 
the best rowers. It was at Carthage that a ship with more than 
three banks of oars was first built, and its pilots steered by the 
pole-star, not, like the Greeks, by the Great Bear. The Phoenician 
galley seems to have been the model of the Greek one. The 
renown of the Phoenicians as builders and carpenters implies their 
knowledge of mechanics and the use of the lever and pulley. 

But their buildings have mostly perished, and so, too, has 
their literature. All that we possess are the scanty quotations, 
chiefly by Josephus, from the history of Tyre by Dios and Menan- 
der of Ephesos, who seem to have derived it from the native 
annals; references to Mokhos, Moskhos, or Okhos, who wrote on 
Phoenician history, and is made by Strabo, on the authority of 
Poseidonios, to have lived before the Trojan War, and started 
the atomic theory; and, above all, the fragments of Philo Byblius, 
who flourished in the second century b. c. and professed to have 
translated into Greek older works by Sanchuniathon and others on 



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134 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

Phoenician history and religion. Sanchuniathon (Sikkun-yitten) 
is said to have been one of a series of hierophants, among whom 
Thabion and Isiris may be named, and to have lived, like Mokhos, 
before the war of Troy. His works were based on the archives 
preserved in the temples, a book composed by Hierombaal or Jerub- 
baal in the days of Abelbaal, King of Berytos, and the sacred 
scriptures of Taautos and Eshmun. If, however, Sanchuniathon 
had any real existence, he must have written but shortly before the 
time of Philo himself, since the cosmogony and theology of the 
latter is wholly the product of a syncretic and rationalizing age. 
The works of Mokhos, as well as two other Phoenician writers, 
Hyksikrates and Theodotos (Sanchuniathon ?), are said to have 
been translated into Greek by a certain Khaitos. It may be added 
that the Carthaginian general, Mago, was the author of twenty- 
eight books on agriculture, turned into Greek by Dionysios of 
Utica, and into Latin by Silanus ; and Hanno of an account of his 
voyage along the west coast of Africa, in the course of which he 
fell in with a " savage people " called gorillas. 

The government of the several states was a monarchy tem- 
pered by an oligarchy of wealth. The king seems to have been but 
the first among a body of ruling merchant princes and still more 
powerful and wealthy chiefs. In time the monarchy disappeared 
altogether, its place being supplied by suffetes or "judges," whose 
term of office lasted sometimes for a year, sometimes for more, 
sometimes even for life. At Carthage the suffetes were two in 
number, who were merely presidents of the senate of thirty. The 
power of the senate was subsequently checked by the creation of 
a board of one hundred and four, chosen by self-electing commit- 
tees of five, to whom the judges, senate, and generals were alike 
accountable. By providing that no member of the board should 
hold office for two years running, Hannibal changed the govern- 
ment into a democracy. The colonies of Phoenicia were permitted 
to manage their own affairs so long as they paid tribute and 
supplied ships and soldiers to the mother city, though their inhabi- 
tants were allowed no rights or privileges in Phoenicia itself. 
Many of them, however, were wholly independent, governed 
by their own kings, and benefiting Phoenicia only in the way of 
trade. 

The cities of Phoenicia were, in fact, the first trading commu- 



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THE PH(ENICIANS 135 

nities the world had seen. Their power and wealth, and even their 
existence, depended on commerce. Their colonies were originally 
mere marts, and their voyages of discovery were undertaken in 
the interests of trade. The tin of Britain, the silver of Spain, the 
birds of the Canaries, the frankincense of Arabia, the pearls and 
ivories of India, all flowed into their harbors. But the purple 
trade was the staple of their industry. It was by the help of the 
murex or purple fish that they had first become prosperous, and 
when the coasts of Palestine could no longer supply sufficient purple 
for the demands of the world, they made their way in search of 
it to the coasts of Greece, of Sicily, and of Africa. The purple 
manufactories of Tyre must always have spoiled a traveler's en- 
joyment of the place. Slaves, too, formed part of Phoenician 
traffic from the earliest times, as also did pottery. Glass, which 
at a very early age we find being manufactured and exported 
by the Phoenicians, was a very important factor in their commercial 
activity. 

The copper of Cyprus was their attraction to that island, 
and, mixed with the tin of Britain and the Caucasus, it became the 
bronze for which they were famous. In mining they excelled, and 
the gold mines of Thasos, where, according to Herodotos, they had 
" overturned a whole mountain," were worked before the thirteenth 
century b. c. Their woven and embroidered garments, dyed 
crimson and violet, were sent all over the then civilized world. 
The weights and measures they used were borrowed from 
Babylonia, and passed over to Greece along with the ancient Baby- 
lonian name of the mina or maund. At Carthage we hear of loans 
made from foreign states, and, along with bars of gold and silver, 
even of a token money, like our banknotes, which had no intrinsic 
value of its own. The revenues were derived chiefly from the 
customs, and were largely expended upon the mercenaries, who 
formed the bulk of the army. 

The citizens themselves preferred to serve on shipboard. The 
commercial spirit thus dominated the people and withheld them 
from the development of military power. Historical monuments, 
which would have enabled us to fairly reconstruct the history of 
Phoenicia, are almost entirely lacking — a further indication of the 
absence of a strong national feeling — and the inscriptions found in 
the country itself and throughout the colonies and settlements made 



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136 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

by the Phoenicians are mainly mortuary or have to do with religion. 
The many prosperous cities were practically independent of each 
other and this lack of unity, added to the mercenary character of 
the military body, made the conquest by Assyria a comparatively 
simple matter. Even the religion of the Phoenicians showed by its 
eclectic character the natural consequences of their maritime situa- 
tion and extended intercourse with foreign ports and nations of the 
interior of Asia. 



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HISTORY OF LYDIA 



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HISTORY OF LYDIA 

Chapter I 

GEOGRAPHY AND HISTORY 

LYDIA is the link that binds together the geography and 
history of Asia and Europe. It occupied the western ex- 
-V tremity of that great peninsula of Asia Minor, 750 miles 
in length and 400 in breadth, which runs out from the mountains 
of Armenia and divides the nations of the north from the happier 
inhabitants of a southern clime. The broad plains of the Hermos 
and Kayster, in which the Lydian monarchy grew up, are the rich- 
est in Asia Minor, and the mountain chains by which they are 
girdled, while sufficiently high to protect them, form cool and 
bracing sites for cities, and are rich in minerals of various kinds. 
The bays of Smyrna and Ephesos formed incomparable harbors; 
here the products of the inland could be safely shipped and carried 
past the bridge of islands which spans the JEgean to the nations 
of the West. Asia Minor, naturally the richest of countries and 
blessed with an almost infinite diversity of climates, finds, as it 
were, in the ancient territory of Lydia the summing-up of its 
manifold perfections and characteristics. Rightly, therefore, did 
the loamy plain of the Kayster give its name of Asian * to the rest 
of the peninsula of which it formed the apex. This peninsula is 
cut in two by the Halys, which flows from that part of the Taurus 
range — the western spur of the Armenian mountains — which over- 
looks the eastern basin of the Mediterranean and forms the back- 
ground of Cilicia. This geographical division had an influence on 
the ethnology of the country. As Asia Minor was but a pro- 
longation of Armenia, so too, originally, its population was the 
same as that which in prehistoric days inhabited the Armenian 
plateau. Thence it spread westward and southward, down the 
slopes of the mountains, under the various names of Hittites, 
Moschi and Tibareni, Kommagenians, Kappadokians, and the like. 

1 Iliad, ii. 461. 
139 



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140 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

We may term it Proto-Armenian, or Hittite, from the name of its 
best-known representative, and see in the Georgians its modern 
representatives, though doubtless the Circassians and other half- 
extinct races, which, before the Russian conquest, found a refuge 
in the fastnesses of the Caucasus, once had their share in populat- 
ing the neighboring regions. But a time came when Aryan tribes 
forced their way into Asia along the shores of the Caspian, and 
passed partly southward into Media and Persia, partly westward 
into Armenia and Asia Minor. Another Aryan people sailed 
across the Hellespont from Thrace and occupied so large a tract 
of the country as to give their name to Phrygia. Other tribes 
again found their way across the -^Egean from Greece itself, and 
under the general title of Ionians or "emigrants" established 
themselves on the more accessible parts of the western coast of 
Asia Minor, where they were joined in the later days of the Dorian 
conquest by other emigrants from their old home. The older 
settlers intermarried with the native population and formed in 
many districts a mixed race. If we might argue from language 
alone, we should infer that the Phrygians, Mysians, and Lydians 
were not only Aryans, but more closely allied to the Hellenic stock 
than any other members of the Aryan family, the Lykians and 
possibly the Karians alone belonging to the old population. But 
language can prove no more than social contact ; it can give us but 
little clue to the race of the speakers; and other facts go to show 
that the Phrygians alone could claim a fairly pure Aryan ancestry, 
the Mysians and Lydians being essentially mixed. The Assyrian 
inscriptions make it clear that as late as the seventh century b. c. 
a non-Aryan population still possessed extensive territories in the 
neighborhood of Lake Van. It was only when the stream of emi- 
gration had brought the Aryan Medes into Media, and the Aryan 
Persians into Elam, that Aryans also forced their way into Ar- 
menia, changed the Namri of the Assyrian inscriptions into Aryan 
Kurds, and planted the colony of the Iron or Ossetes in the 
Caucasus itself. 

The Proto-Armenian race has left memorials of itself in the 
monuments and inscriptions of Lake Van and its neighborhood. 
In the ninth century b. c. it borrowed the characters of the As- 
syrian syllabary, selecting those only which were needed to ex- 
press the sounds of its language; and the line of monarchs that 
then ruled at Dhuspas, the modern Van, showed themselves to be 



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LYDIA 141 

able administrators and good generals. Menuas, Argistis, and 
Sarduris II., all added to the kingdom, and brought the barbarous 
tribes of the north and east under their more civilized domination. 
The gods they worshiped were numerous: Khaldis, the supreme 
god; Teisbas, the Air-god; Ardinis, the Sun-god; and Selardis, the 
Moon-god, standing at the head. There were, in fact, as many 
Khaldises as there were local cults ; and an inscription of Isbuinis, 
the father of Menuas, distinguishes four of them by name. The 
dress of the people consisted of a long fringed robe which reached 
to the ankles, or of a short tunic resembling that worn by the 
Greeks, over which an embroidered cloak was sometimes thrown. 
The short tunic was worn by the soldiers, whose helmets so closely 
resemble those of the Greeks as to confirm the statement of Herod- 
otos that the Greeks derived the crests that adorned them 
from the Karians. A short dirk was slung in the belt, and the 
hands were armed with a small round shield and a long spear. 
The most peculiar part of the dress, however, were the boots with 
the ends turned up, such as are still worn by the mountaineers of 
Asia Minor and Greece. They indicate the cold and hilly region in 
which their inventors lived. The head was covered sometimes by 
a close-fitting cap, sometimes by a lofty tiara, sometimes by the 
Phrygian cap; and the double-headed ax which characterized the 
aboriginal populations of Asia Minor, and gave a name to Zeus 
Labrandeus, "Zeus with the double-headed ax," worshiped in 
Karia, was also used by them. The language of the Vannic in- 
scriptions, as they are termed, may, like Georgian, be called inflec- 
tional, though it is neither Aryan nor Semitic. The language re- 
vealed by the bilingual inscriptions of Lykia is of the same 
character. 

The most important branch of the Proto-Armenian race were 
the Hittites, who established themselves in the heart of the Semitic 
territory, and founded an empire which contended on equal terms 
with Egypt, and once extended its sway as far as the iEgean. 
They had, however, been preceded in their new settlements by an- 
other people of kindred race. At the time of the Amarna Letters, 
about 1400 b. c, Dushratta, King of Mitanni, ruled over a dis- 
trict embracing northern Mesopotamia, between the Euphrates and 
the Balikh, and a part of northern Syria. His sister Gilukhepa was 
one of the wives of Amenophis III., and his daughter Tadukhepa 
was married to the heretic King Amenophis IV. A century or 



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142 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

more earlier the dominions of Mitanni probably extended as far 
south as the Lebanon Mountains, but in the reign of Dushratta the 
state was rapidly declining, and not long afterward it yielded to 
the rising power of Assyria. In the meantime the Hittites were 
pushing southward from their original home in Kappadokia and, 
in the fourteenth and thirteenth centuries, the weakness of Egypt 
enabled them to gain possession of all Syria as far as Mt. Hermon. 
Ramses II. waged a long and ineffectual war with them, and 
when peace was finally concluded, northern Syria and Phoenicia 
remained in the hands of his opponents. An alliance, offensive 
and defensive, was made between the contesting powers and was 
cemented by the marriage of Ramses with the daughter of the 
Hittite king. But the Semitic Anameans, migrating northward 
from the deserts of Arabia, gradually pushed back the Hittites and 
occupied their territory in Western Asia, while other Proto-Ar- 
menian peoples, pressing upon them from the north, completed 
their downfall. As late as the eighth century b. c. a Hittite state 
still maintained a quasi independence at Carchemish, the modern 
Jerablus, on the Euphrates, but in 717 the city was taken by Sar- 
gon, who put to death its king, Pisiris, and reduced the district to 
an Assyrian province. In the western part of Asia Minor the 
piratical Lukki, also of kin to the Hittites, established themselves 
as early as the fifteenth century, and gave their name to the dis- 
tricts of Lykia and Lykaonia. Of the same Proto-Armenian, or 
Hittite, race were the people of Kummukh, or Kommagene, the 
Kaski, the Moschi, and the Tabal or Tibareni, the last two peoples 
being known in the Old Testament as Meshech and Tubal. About 
1 100 b. c. the Kommagenians, who then occupied the former ter- 
ritory of Mitanni, were subjugated by Tiglath-Pileser I., and at 
the same time the Assyrian king drove back the Moschi, the Tabal, 
and the Kaski from the farther borders of Kommagene into the 
settlements later occupied by them in Asia Minor. Nearly four 
centuries later Sargon lent his support to the state of Tabal, be- 
tween the Taurus Mountains and the River Halys, against a mon- 
arch whom he names, in his inscriptions, " Mita, King of Muski." 
But though the name of the Moschi was still applied to their set- 
tlements along the Halys, their dominions had sometime before 
passed to another people. Mita is the Midas of the Greek writers, 
and he ruled over the Aryan Phrygians, who, invading Asia Minor 
from Thrace, had conquered the Moschi and taken possession of 



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LYDIA 148 

their territory. Their rule was not of long duration, for shortly 
after 700 b. c. the Kimmerian invasion swept over the land. 
Midas was slain, and his kingdom fell with him. In the troubled 
times that followed the Lydian Gyges built up his new kingdom 
upon the ruins of the Phrygian state. 

The Hittite empire, while it lasted, had done much for civil- 
ization. The Hittites invented a. system of hieroglyphic writing, 
in some respects resembling that of Egypt, and the art developed 
at Carchemish presents certain points of contact with the art of 
Babylonia and Egypt. This art, along with the accompanying 
culture and writing, was brought with them into Mesopotamia and 
' Syria from their original home in Asia Minor. They have left 
their memorials in the sculptures of Boghaz Keui and Eyuk in 
Kappadokia, of Ivris in Lykaonia, of Ghiaur Kalessi in Phrygia, 
and of Karabel and "the Niobe" of Sipylos in Lydia. Hittite 
monuments, in fact, are found in every part of Asia Minor, but 
are especially frequent in Kappadokia, Cilicia, and northern Syria. 
The two figures at Karabel which Herodotos, after his visit to 
Egypt, imagined to be those of Sesostris, were really those of the 
bitterest enemies of Egypt, and the hieroglyphics which accom- 
panied them were the hieroglyphics, not of Thebes, but of Car- 
chemish. The monuments were erected as sign-posts to the 
travelers through the pass, and as witnesses that the power which 
carved them was mistress of Ephesos, of Smyrna, and of Sardes. 

The legend reported by Herodotos which makes the founder 
of the Herakleid dynasty of Lydia the son of Ninos, and grandson 
of Belos, may possibly be an echo of the fact that Carchemish was 
called Ninus Vetus, "the old Nineveh," and that its culture had 
come from the land of Bel. At all events, the Herakles or Sandon 
who wedded Omphale, the daughter of Iardanos, and from whom 
the dynasty derived its name, is the Babylonian Sun-god, as modi- 
fied by Hittite belief, Omphale being perhaps the Hittite name of 
the Asiatic goddess. 

There were other legends which connected Lydia with the 
Euphrates; and these were supposed to point to an Assyrian con- 
quest of the country before the Assyrian inscriptions themselves 
had told us that the Assyrians never passed westward of the Halys, 
much less knew the name of Lydia, until the age of Ashur-bani-pal. 
The art and culture, the deities and rites, which Lydia owed to 
Babylonia were brought by the hands of the Hittites, and bore 



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144 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

upon them the Hittite stamp. It is with the Hittite period, so 
strangely recovered but the other day, that Lydian history begins. 
The legends of an earlier epoch given by the native historian Xan- 
thos, according to the fragments of Nikolas of Damascus, are 
mere myths and fables. The first Lydian dynasty of Atyads was 
headed by Attys and the Moon-god Manes or Men, and included 
geographical personages like Lydos, Asios, and Meles, or such 
heroes of folklore as Kambletes, who devoured his wife, and 
Tylon, the son of Omphale, who was bitten by a snake, but re- 
stored to life by a marvelous herb. Here and there we come across 
faint reminiscences of the Hittite supremacy and the struggle 
which ended in its overthrow ; Akiamos, the successor of the good 
king Alkimos, sent Askalos or Kayster, the brother of Tantalos, to 
conquer Syria; and Moxos (or Mopsos) marched into the same 
region, where he took Atargatis, the goddess of Carchemish, cap- 
tive, and threw her into the sacred lake. It is probable that the 
Herakleidae were at the outset the Hittite satraps of Sardes, whose 
power increased as that of the distant empire declined, and who 
finally made themselves independent rulers of the Lydian plain. 
According to Herodotos, Agron, called Agelaos by Apollodorus, 
Kleodaios or Lamos by Diodorus, was the first of the Herakleids, 
whose rule lasted for 505 years. Xanthos, however, was doubt- 
less more correct in making Sadyattes and Lixos the successors of 
Tylon, the son of Omphale. The dynasty ended with Kandaules, 
the twenty-second prince. Gyges, called Gugu in the Assyrian in- 
scriptions, put him to death, and established the dynasty of the 
Mermnadae about 690 b. c. 1 The Lydians seem to have been of 
Hittite stock, and the empire of Gyges represents, in all probability, 
a return of the old race to political supremacy. Gyges extended 
the Lydian dominion as far as the Hellespont, though he was un- 
successful in his attempt to capture the Ionic port of Old Smyrna. 
Toward the middle of his reign r however, Lydia was overrun by 
the Kimmerians, the Gimirrai of the Assyrian texts, the Gomer of 
the Old Testament, who had been driven from their ancient seats 
by an invasion of Scythians, and thrown upon Asia Minor by the 
defeat they suffered at the hands of Esarhaddon on the northern 
frontier of the Assyrian Empire. The Greek colony of Sinope was 
sacked, and the fame of the barbarian hordes penetrated to Hel- 
lenic lands, where the redactor of the Odyssey, the Homer whom 
Theopompos and Euphorion make a contemporary of Gyges, spoke 
2 According to Eusebius, 698 b. c. 



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LYDIA 



145 



of them 8 as still in the misty region of the eastern Euxine. The 
lower town of Sardes itself was taken by the Kimmerians, who 
were mentioned by Kallinos, the Greek poet of Ephesos ; and Gyges 
in his extremity turned to the power which alone had been able 
to inflict defeat on the barbarian hordes. Accordingly an embassy 
was sent to Ashur-bani-pal ; Lydia consented to become the tribu- 
tary of Assyria, and presents were made to the great king, includ- 
ing two Kimmerian chieftains whom Gyges had captured with his 
own hand. It was some time before an interpreter could be found 
for the ambassadors. The danger passed, and die Lydian king 
shook off his allegiance, aiding Egypt to do the same. But Assyria 




^Q^ 

* A 

* * 



■«*' 



LYDIA IN 660 B.C. 

UNSHAOCO PORTION SHOWS 
EXTENT OP MNOOOM ABOUT 600 B.C. 



was soon avenged. Once more the Kimmerians appeared before 
Sardes, Gyges was slain and beheaded in battle after a reign of 
thirty-eight years, and his son, Ardys II. again submitted to be 
the vassal of Sardanapallos. Upon this occasion Sardes seems to 
have fallen a second time into the hands of its enemies, an event 
alluded to by Callisthenes. Alyattes III., the grandson of Ardys, 
finally succeeded in extirpating the Kimmerian scourge, as well as 
in taking Smyrna, and thus providing his kingdom with a port. 
Lydia rapidly progressed in power and prosperity; its ships traf- 
ficked in all parts of the ^Egean, and its kings sent offerings to 

8 Odyssey, xi. 12-19. 



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146 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

Delphi and affected to tie Greek. It remained for Croesus, how- 
ever, the son of Alyattes, to carry out the policy first planned by 
Gyges, and make himself suzerain of the wealthy trading cities of 
Ionia. They were allowed to retain their own institutions and 
government on condition of recognizing the authority of the 
Lydian monarch, and paying customs and dues to the imperial 
exchequer. With the commerce of Ionia and the native treasures 
of Lydia alike at his command, Croesus became the richest mon- 
arch of his age. He reigned alone only fifteen years, but he seems 
to have shared the royal power for several years previously with 
his father. All the nations of Asia Minor as far as the Halys 
owned his sway. He was on friendly terms with the states of 
Greece, with Babylonia, and with Media. In fact, Astyages of 
Media was his brother-in-law, his sister Aryenis having been mar- 
ried to Astyages in order to cement the treaty between Alyattes 
and Kyaxares, brought about (in 585 b. c.) after six years of 
fighting, by the kindly offices of the Babylonian king, and the inter- 
vention of the eclipse foretold by Thales. The Lydian Empire, 
however, did not long survive the fall of the Median Empire. 
Cyrus and Croesus met in battle on the banks of the Halys about 
547 b. c, and though the engagement was indecisive it was fol- 
lowed by a winter campaign of the Persians, which resulted in 
the defeat of the Lydians before they could summon their allies to 
their aid, and the capture of Sardes and its citadel. The vulner- 
able spot was believed to be where the legendary monarch Meles 
had failed to carry the lion, which was a symbol alike of Hittite 
and of Lydian power; but it was really the path made by one of 
those ever-recurring landslips which have reduced the crumbling 
sandstone cliff of the Acropolis to a mere shell, and threaten in a 
few years to obliterate all traces of the ancient citadel of the Lydian 
kings. 



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Chapter II 

RELIGION AND CULTURE 

THE religion of Lydia, as of the rest of Asia Minor, was 
profoundly influenced by that of Babylonia after the 
modification it had undergone at Carchemish. The Hit- 
tites had received the religious conceptions of Chaldea, along with 
the germs of art and culture, before the rise of Assyria ; it is Baby- 
lonia, therefore, and not Assyria, that explains them. The Baby- 
lonian Nana became the goddess of Carchemish, where in the days 
of Semitic ascendency she was known as Atargatis and Derketo. 
The Babylonian Sun-god passed into Sandon of Cilicia and Lydia, 
the Baal-Tars or Baal of Tarsos of the Aramaic coins. Even the 
Chaldean story of the Deluge was transplanted to "the sacred 
city" of Carchemish, the ship becoming an ark, Xisuthros 
Sisythes, and the mountain of Nizir a pool in the neighborhood 
of the Euphrates. Thence the legend was passed on to Apamea, and 
possibly other towns of Asia Minor as well. 

The form and worship of Atargatis were similarly carried 
westward. The terra-cotta images of Nana, which represent the 
goddess as nude, with the hands upon the breast, may be traced 
through Asia Minor into the islands of the iEgean, and even into 
Greece itself. Dr. Schliemann has found them at Hissarlik, where 
the "owl-headed" vases are adorned with representations of the 
same goddess, and they occur plentifully in Cyprus. At Car- 
chemish they underwent two different modifications. Sometimes 
the goddess was provided with a conical cap and four wings, which 
branched out behind the back; sometimes she was robed in a long 
garment, with the tnodius or mural crown upon the head. Terra- 
cotta statues of her, discovered by Major di Cesnola in Cyprus, 
set under the mural crown a row of eagles, like the double-headed 
eagle which appears in the Hittite sculptures at Boghaz Keui and 
Eyuk. At times the mural crown becomes the polos, as in the 
images disinterred at Mycenae and Tanagra; at other times the 

147 



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148 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

body of the deity takes the shape of a cone, or rather of the aerolite 
which symbolized her at Troy, at Ephesos, and elsewhere, while 
the surface is thickly covered with breasts. It was under this lat- 
ter form, and with the mural crown upon the head, that the Hit- 
tite settlers in Ephesos represented the divinity they had brought 
with them. Here the bee was sacred to her, and her priestesses 
were called " bees," while the chief priest was £<r<n^, " the king 
bee." The bee is similarly employed on Hittite gems, and a 
gem found near Aleppo represents Atargatis standing on the 
insect. 

The Hittite priestesses who accompanied the worship of the 
goddess as it spread through Asia Minor were known to Greek 
legend as Amazons. The cities founded by Amazons — Ephesos, 
Smyrna, Kyme, Myrina, Priene, Pitane — were all of Hittite ori- 
gin. In early art the Amazons are robed in Hittite costume and 
armed with the double-headed ax, and the dances they performed 
with shield and bow in honor of the goddess of war and love gave 
rise to the myths which saw in them a nation of woman warriors. 
The Thermodon, on whose banks the poets placed them, was in the 
neighborhood of the Hittite monuments of Boghaz Keui and Eyuk, 
and at Komana in Kappadokia the goddess Ma was served by six 
thousand ministers. 

By the side of Atargatis or Ma, the Ephesian Artemis, called 
also Kybele, Kybebe, and Amma, stood the Sun-god Attys or 
Agdistis, at once the son and bridegroom of the " great goddess " 
of Asia. Among the Phrygians he was named Papas or " father," 
and invoked as " the shepherd of the bright stars." Attys was 
symbolized by the fir tree into which he had been changed after 
mutilating himself to avoid the love of Kybele. He is, in fact, the 
Semitic Adonis ; or rather, just as the old Hittite goddess assumed 
the attributes and functions of the Babylonian Nana, so, too, Attys 
took upon him the character of Tammuz or Adonis. The rites 
with which Ishtar and Tammuz had been worshiped at Babylon 
were transferred first to Carchemish and then to Asia Minor. The 
prostitution by which Atargatis was honored was paralleled by the 
mutilation and self-torture practiced in the name of Attys. His 
untimely death was mourned by women like the death of Tam- 
muz, and his galli or priests were all eunuchs. At Pessinus, 
where each was termed an Attys, the chief priest had the title 
of archigallos. 



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LYDIA 149 

But underneath these imported religious conceptions and 
rites lay the old nature-worship of the natives of Armenia and 
Asia Minor. The frenzy that marked the cult of Attys or of Zeus 
Sabazios in Phrygia, the wild dances, the wanderings in the pine 
woods, the use of cymbals and tamborines, the invention of which 
was ascribed to Asia Minor, were all of older date than the period 
of Babylonian and Semitic influence. The story of Apollo and the 
Phrygian flute-player Marsyas, the follower of Kybele, may im- 
ply that the Aryan occupation of Phrygia exorcised the wild and 
exciting spirit of the native music and of the worship to which it 
was consecrated. At any rate, as the language of the Phrygian 
inscriptions proves, the non- Aryan element in the population of that 
part of Asia Minor was reduced to insignificance, and the supreme 
god of the country became the Aryan Bagaios. 

The close connection between Phrygia and Hellas is shown 
by the early mythology of Greece. Phrygian heroes like Gordios 
and Midas form as integral a part of Greek story as do the heroes 
and poets of Thrace. It is different with those other lands of Asia 
Minor which enter into Greek legend. The plain of Troy was 
rendered famous by the struggles made by the Achaean fugitives 
from the Dorian invasion of the Peloponnesos to gain a foothold 
in iEolis ; the immemorial story of the storming of the sky by the 
bright powers of day, which had been localized in Thebes, where 
Greeks and Phoenicians had contended for possession, being again 
localized by Achaean poet9 in the land of their adoption. Sarpe- 
don, the Lykian hero, was celebrated in Ionic song, because Apollo 
Lykios, " the god of light," had been associated with the eastern 
hills behind which the light-bringing Sun-god rose each morning 
for the Hellenic settlers on the coast; and the tales that grew 
around the names of Tantalos and Pelops enshrined a real tradi- 
tion of the day when Hittite culture and Lydian wealth came 
to the feudal lords of Mycenae from the golden sands of the 
Paktolos. 

Hittite art presents numerous points of contact with the art 
of early Babylonia, though the sphinxes at Eyuk, the Hittite form 
of the feroher or winged solar disk, and the scarabs found in the 
neighborhood of Aleppo, show that Egypt had also exercised an 
influence upon it. It was characterized by solidity, roundness, and 
work in relief. The mural crown was a Hittite invention, and 
the animal forms, in which the Hittite artists specially excelled, 



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150 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

were frequently combined to form composite creatures, among 
which may be mentioned the double-headed eagle, afterward 
adopted by the Seljukian sultans, and carried by the crusaders to 
the German states. This Hittite art is the source of the peculiar 
art of Asia Minor, which forms a well-marked element in that of 
primitive Greece. The famous sculpture at Mycenae, over the gate 
to which it has given its name, finds its analogue in a similar 
heraldic sculpture above a rock tomb at Kumbet, in the valley of 
the Sangarios ; and the tombs of Midas and other Phrygian kings 
in the same spot exhibit the architectural devices, the key pattern, 
and other kinds of ornamentation which we meet with in the early 
art of Greece. An archaic lion's head from Sardes, built into a 
wall at Akhmetlu, forms a link between the lions of Hittite sculp- 
ture on the one side and the lions found among the ruins of 
Mycenae on the other. The lentoid gems, again, discovered in 
the islands of the Archipelago, in Crete, at the Heraeon of Argos, 
and on other prehistoric sites, are all closely allied in artistic style 
to the Hittite carved stones which owe their inspiration to the 
archaic gems of Babylonia. Still more nearly Hittite in character 
are the engraved cylinders and seals of chalcedony, and similar 
stones, brought from Cyprus and from Lydia itself. Long sup- 
posed to be rude imitations of Phoenician workmanship, they now 
turn out to be engraved after Hittite models. It is possible that 
gold chatons of rings engraved in imitation of archaic Babylonian 
patterns, and found by Dr. Schliemann at Mycenae, may have made 
their way into Argolis, not directly from the Babylonians at the 
time when Sargon of Agade carried his arms as far as Cyprus, 
but through the intervention of the Hittites, since the double- 
headed battle-ax of Asia Minor is introduced upon one of them, 
and a row of animals 9 heads in true Hittite style appears upon 
the other. 

Greek tradition remembered that Karians as well as Phoeni- 
cians had brought the West the culture of the East Karian tombs 
were discovered in Delos when the island was purified by the 
Athenians during the Peloponnesian War. 1 The Greek helmet, a 
Karian gift, may be ultimately traced back to the warriors of 
Armenia, and the emblems of the shield to which Herodotos 
ascribes a Karian origin were possibly at the outset the hieroglyphics 
of Hittite writing. Dr. Kohler once wished to see in the rock 
tombs of Spata (perhaps the Attic deme of Sphettos), the rest- 
1 In the winter of 426 B. c Thucydides, L 8, iii. 104. 



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LYDIA 151 

ing-places of Karian dead; and though the discovery of similar 
remains in Rhodes, in the tomb of Menidi in Attica, at Mycenae, 
and elsewhere, shows that the sepulchers themselves belonged to 
Greek natives, and that their contents mostly exhibit Phoenician 
influence and trade, yet there are certain objects, like an ivory 
human head crowned with the Hittite tiara, which refer us unmis- 
takably to Asia Minor. The butterfly which occurs so plentifully 
at Mycenae, and of which specimens, conventionally treated, may 
be seen on the glass ornaments of Menidi, 2 came more probably 
from Asia Minor than from Phoenicia. On the other hand, the 
gold masks with which the faces of the dead were covered seem 
to be of Phoenician derivation, since they were suggested by the 
gilded mummy faces of the Egyptians, who sometimes used gold 
masks besides, as is evidenced by the golden mask of Prince Kha- 
em-Uas of the eightheenth dynasty, now in the Louvre ; while the 
corpse of a child covered with a mask of gold has been disinterred 
at Arvad. 

Silver was the metal which more especially attracted the Hit- 
tites. Their monuments in Asia Minor are chiefly in the neigh- 
borhood of silver mines, which they were the first to work. The 
Hittite copy of the treaty with Ramses II. was accompanied by a 
plate of silver, with a likeness of the god Sutekh in the middle, 
and an inscription running round it. A similar circular plate has 
been found, which apparently covered the handle of a dirk, with 
a figure of a king in the center, a Hittite inscription twice repeated 
on either side, and a cuneiform legend running round the rim. 
These circular silver disks, with an image in the middle, and an 
inscription surrounding it, very probably suggested the idea of 
coined money, which was primarily of silver, and the invention of 
which was ascribed to the Lydians. The practice of using silver 
as a writing material seems to have been general among the 
Hittite tribes. Renan has found niches cut in the rocks of 
Syria which would fit the written silver-plates of the Hittites as 
depicted on the monuments of Egypt, and the Hittite hiero- 
glyphics are always carved in relief, even when the material is 
hard stone. 

These hieroglyphics were of native invention, though some 

scholars believe that they may have been suggested by the sight 

of Egyptian writing. The Hittite races carried their writing with 

them into the farthest extremity of Asia Minor— one of the 

a See "Das Kuppelgrab bei Menidi" (1880), pi. iv. 12. 



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152 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

pseudo-Sesostris in the pass of Karabel having a Hittite inscrip- 
tion still legible upon it; and out of it, apparently, was formed a 
syllabary, which we may term Asianic. This syllabary was in 
use throughout Asia Minor before the introduction of the simpler 
Phoenician alphabet, and a local branch of it was employed in con- 
servative Cyprus as late as the fourth or third century b. c. Else- 
where we find it only on objects discovered by Dr. Schliemann in 
the lower strata of Hissarlik, though certain characters belonging 
to it were retained in historical times in the various Asianic alpha- 
bets — Kappadokian, Mysian, Lydian, Lykian, Karian, Pamphy- 
lian, and Cilician — to express sounds not represented by the letters 
of the Ionic alphabet. As the latter alphabet still contained the 
digamma when it superseded the older syllabary, its adoption could 
not have been later than the middle of the seventh century b. c. 

Lydian literature has wholly perished, though the fragments 
of the native historian, Xanthos, prove that annals had been kept 
for some generations at least previous to the accession of the 
Mermnadse; and we may infer from the Babylonian character and 
coloring of the earliest Ionic philosophies that Lydian writers had 
already made the philosophic ideas of the far East familiar to their 
countrymen. It was for music and for gymnastic exercises that 
the Lydians were celebrated by the ancients, both developments in 
keeping with the somewhat sensual character usually attributed to 
them. But the Lydians, while pleasure-loving, were temperate and 
their banquets were commented on as models of good taste in con- 
trast to the overburdened boards of the Thessalonians. The 
Lydians were fond of personal adornment, rich colors and textures. 
They approved heavily perfumed unguents and pomades, and the 
baccaris of Lydia was a celebrated compound with a heavy and 
overpowering odor. 

Lydfe was the industrial power of Asia Minor, and the spirit 
of enterprise may be counted as the clue to a comprehension of the 
nature of the Lydian people. Their reputation for wealth rested 
on this rather than on the known resources of the country. The 
prestige of Lydian merchants clung to them for centuries after 
the fall of Croesus and the loss of his empire. They possessed 
a natural aptitude for commercial pursuits, and their cities were 
centers of activity and trade, and Herodotos credits them with 
being the first people to set up inns. 



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LYDIA 158 

But just as the complexion of the Babylonian culture brought 
by the Hittites to the West differed from that brought by the Phoeni- 
cians in being carried overland by conquerors, and in therefore being 
more penetrating and permanent, so too the industrial character of 
the Lydians differed from that of the Phoenicians. Their trade was 
an inland, not a maritime, one. Sardes was the meeting-place of 
the caravans that journeyed from the interior along the two high- 
roads constructed by the Hittites — the one traversed by Croesus 
when he marched against Cyrus, and leading by Ghiaur Kalessi 
and Ancyra to Boghaz Keui; the other, afterward used by Xeno- 
phon and the Ten Thousand, which ran southward through 
Lykaonia and Ikonion, and after passing through the Cilician 
Gates, joined the thoroughfare from Carchemish to Antioch and 
the bay of Scanderun. Unlike Phoenicia, moreover, Lydia was 
rich in its own resources. Gold, emery, and other minerals 
were dug out of its mountains; its plains were luxuriant be- 
yond description; its hillsides clothed with thick forests. The 
policy of the Mermnadae was to make their state the industrial 
center of East and West. The conquest of the Ionian cities which 
had succeeded to the commercial empire of the Phoenicians threw 
into their hands the trade of the Mediterranean, and Abydos was 
occupied by Gyges in order to command the entrance to the corn 
lands of the Euxine. 

Phamphaes of Ephesos was the banker of Croesus. In one 
sense a nation of shopkeepers, they did not barter in merchan- 
dise as the Phoenicians were wont to do, and the invention of 
coined money is to be credited to them, their custom being to 
imprint the rude ingot of the precious metal with the offi- 
cial stamp of the state, together with that of the king. The 
standard, as Barclay Head has shown, was the silver " mina of 
Carchemish," as the Assyrians called it, the Babylonian, as it 
was termed by the Greeks, which contained 8656 grains. This 
standard, originally derived by the Hittites from Babylonia, 
but modified by themselves, was passed on to the nations of Asia 
Minor during the epoch of Hittite conquest, and from them was 
received by Pheidon of Argos and the Greeks. The standard, it 
will be observed, was a silver, and not a gold one, silver being 
the favorite Hittite metal. Six small silver bars, each originally 
weighing the third part of the " Babylonian " mina, were discov- 



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154 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

ered by Dr. Schliemann at Hissarlik, and the standard was that 
according to which the electron coins of Gyges were struck. Little 
by little, however, it was superseded by the heavier Phoenician 
mina of 11,225 grains, also, no doubt, primitively of Babylonian 
origin. Thrace, Lydia, and the western and southern coast of Asia 
Minor all adopted the new standard, and it was only in conserva- 
tive Cyprus and on the neighboring shores of Cilicia that the old 
mina remained in use down to the age of Alexander the Great 



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HISTORY OF PERSIA 

Chapter I 

ETHNOLOGY AND HISTORY 

PERSIA proper, roughly corresponding to the modern 
province of Farsistan, was comparatively a small district, 
about 450 miles in length by 250 in breadth. Eastward it 
touched on Kerman or Karamania, westward it was bounded by 
Susiana, southward by the Persian Gulf. Its inhabitants were 
Aryans, whose immigration into the country called after their 
name was not much earlier than the period of the fall of the As- 
syrian Empire. The Assyrian inscriptions know little about them. 
Under leaders termed Akhaemenians (from Hakhamanish, "the 
friendly") the tribe of the Persians pushed its way into Anzan, 
a province of Elam, which had been destroyed and desolated by 
the armies of Ashur-bani-pal, and subsequently left a prey to 
the first invader by the decay of the Assyrian power. The tribe 
was but one out of many which had long been steadily advancing 
southward from the eastern shore of the Caspian. Mountains and 
deserts checked for a time their progress, but at length they spread 
over the vast districts of Baktria and Ariana, and a number of 
tribes, each under its own chief, reached the borders of Assyria 
and Elam. These tribes were known in later history as the Aryan 
Medes and Persians. 

The Medes are first mentioned on the Assyrian monuments by 
Shalmaneser II. (835 b. c.) under the double name of Amadai 
and Madai, and placed in Matiene. Between them and the Namri 
of Kurdistan intervened the people of Parsuas, with their twenty- 
seven kings, or rather chieftains, who occupied the southwestern 
shore of Lake Urumiyeh. It has been doubted whether these Madai 
were really the Aryan Medes and not rather " Protomedes," allied 
in race and language to the Kossaeans and Elamites, and this 
opinion is still maintained by some scholars. In view, however, 
of all the evidence, it seems more probable that the Madai of the As- 
syrian inscriptions were a genuine branch of the Aryan race, who 
gradually supplanted the non-Aryan population of Media and 

157 



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158 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

eventually gave their name to the country. At first they dwelt, as 
described by Herodotos, in scattered communities under the rule 
of their clan chieftains, and this state of affairs certainly existed 
in the reign of Esarhaddon, who undertook an expedition to crush 
their growing power. 

In the second half of the seventh century, however, there 
came a change. The scattered Aryan tribes of Media were united 
under a single monarchy by Uvakhshatara or Kyaxares. This 
prince, according to Herodotos, was the descendant of Deiokes, 
the builder of Ekbatana, a name which appears as Daiukku in the 
Assyrian records. One Daiukku, a chief of the Minni (on the 
western shore of Lake Urumiyeh) under their king, Ullusun, was 
transported to Hamath by Sargon in 715 b. c, and two or three 
years later the Assyrian monarch made an expedition to the three 
adjoining districts of Ellipi, Karalla, and Bit-Daiukku, " the house 
of Deiokes." Ellipi lay on the eastern frontier of Kurdistan, and 
included the land of Aranzi — a name preserved in the Orontes 
Mountains of classical geography, the Urvanda of the old Persians 
— where Ekbatana was afterward founded. Karalla intervened 
between the northern boundary of Ellipi and the southeastern 
shores of Lake Urumiyeh. It is just possible that the Median 
kings of Ktesias, Astibaras, and Artaios may represent (Rita or) 
Dalta, who was placed on the throne of Ellipi by Sargon in 709 
b. c, and his son, Ispabara, who came into conflict with Sennach- 
erib. In the year 610 b. c. Kyaxares, after thoroughly organiz- 
ing his army, invaded Assyria and, defeating the Assyrians in the 
field, had actually invested Nineveh when the siege was raised by 
an army under command of Madyes, son of Protothyes, king of 
the Scythians. In 608, however, the Medes, havkig in the 
meantime signally defeated the Scythian forces, returned to the 
attack, and Nineveh fell after a two years' siege in the year 606. 
In the dismemberment of the Assyrian Empire which now fol- 
lowed, Kyaxares took for his share Assyria proper and the north- 
ern provinces, while his ally, Nabopolassar of Babylon, obtained 
Mesopotamia, Syria, and Palestine. Kyaxares now proceeded to 
dispossess his Scythian neighbors and to extend his dominion in 
Asia Minor. Peace was established between him and Alyattes of 
Lydia in 585 b. c. through the kindly offices of his ally, Nebuchad- 
rezzar, and the Halys made the boundary of the Median and 
Lydian Empires. Shortly after this the Median Empire of 



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PERSIA 



159 



Kyaxares was overthrown by Istuvegu, the Astyages of Greek 
writers, whom later Persian legends confounded with the tyrant 
Zohak or Azhidahaka, " the biting snake " of night and darkness, 
celebrated in ancient Aryan mythology. The contemporaneous 
Babylonian cylinder inscription of Nabonidos gives to Astyages 
the title of king of the barbarians, and is well worth quoting. 
Nabonidos first states that the " Temple of Rejoicing/' the shrine 





DISMEMBERMENT OF THE 

ASSYRIAN EMPIRE 

CIRCA 585 B.C, 



of the Moon-god at Harran, had been destroyed by the Umman 
manda, or "barbarian host," when they captured and ruined the 
city. Then he goes on to say: " At the beginning of my enduring 
reign, Merodach, the great lord, and Sin, the luminary of heaven 
and earth, both stood before me [in a dream]. Merodach said to 
me : 'O Nabonidos, King of Babylon, go up with the horses of 
thy chariot ; fetch bricks, build the Temple of Rejoicing, and estab- 
lish within it the abode of Sin, the great lord.' Reverently I said 



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160 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

to Merodach supreme among the gods : * This temple which thou 
commandest [me] to build is encompassed by the Umman manda, 
and his forces are terrible/ Merodach answered me : ' The Umman 
manda of whom thou has spoken shall not exist, neither he nor 
his land, nor the kings his allies.' The third year thereafter they 
[the gods] brought against him Cyrus, King of Anzan, his petty 
vassal, who with his slender forces routed the numerous Umman 
manda, captured their king, Istuvegu, and took him a prisoner 
to his own land." After this Nabonidos carried out the will of 
the gods. His " vast army " was summoned from Gaza, on the 
one side, to the Persian Gulf on the other, and set to work to 
restore the temple of Harran, which had been built three centuries 
previously by the Assyrian king, Shalmaneser II., and subsequently 
repaired by Ashur-bani-pal. On his own cylinder, Cyrus, " King 
of Anzan," similarly declares that Merodach had made the Kurds 
of Gutium and the Manda or barbarians " bow down before his 
feet." 

The classical historians connected Astyages by marriage with 
his conqueror Cyrus, but the discovery of contemporaneous records 
has proved their accounts to be Sb largely mixed with fable that it 
becomes unsafe to accept any statement not supported by monu- 
mental authority. Cyrus was the son of Kambyses, the son of 
Cyrus, the son of Teispes, who had been the first to establish the 
Persian rule in Anzan or western Elam, which extended from the 
district of Susa in the north to the Persian Gulf in the south. 1 
Darius, the son of Hystaspes, who traces his descent through 
Arsames and Ariaramnes to Teispes, the son of Akhaemenes, prob- 
ably refers to the same Teispes, and would therefore be justified in 
his claim to be of the royal race. It is even possible that while 
Cyrus I. and Kambyses I. were ruling in Anzan, Ariaramnes and 
Arsames governed an Aryan principality in Persis. At any rate 
Darius declares that eight of his race had been kings before him, 
and he lays special stress upon the fact of his relationship to Cyrus. 
Strabo 2 says that Cyrus was originally called Agradates, and 
took the name of Cyrus or Kuras from the river that flows past 

1 Sir H. Rawlinson has pointed out that the learned Arabic writer, Ibn 
en-Nadim, "who had unusually good means of information as to genuine 
Persian traditions," ascribes the invention of Persian writing to Jemshid, 
the son of Vivenghan, who dwelt at Assan, one of the districts of Shushan 
(Journal Royal Archaeological Society, xii. I, Jan. 1880). 

2 Strabo, " Geography," xv. 3. 



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PERSIA 161 

Pasargadae; while Nikolaus Damascenus, doubtless quoting 
Ktesias, made him the son of the peasant Atradates, the Mithradates 
of Herodotos, whom he calls an Amardian. But such statements 
rest upon no solid ground and there is no reason to doubt that 
Cyrus was of genuine Aryan descent. 

It was in 550 b. c. that Astyages was overthrown. On his 
march against Cyrus his own soldiers revolted against him and 
gave him into the hands of his enemy ; " the land of Ekbatana and 
the royal city" were ravaged and plundered by the conqueror; 
and the Medes at once acknowledged the supremacy of Cyrus, 
whom they regarded as their liberator from the rule of an alien 
tyrant. Within the next three years the powerful kingdom of 
Lydia was subdued, Croesus, its king, was captured in his capital, 
Sardes, and all Asia Minor was in the hands of the Persian con- 
queror. The date of Croesus's fall is not quite certain, but it prob- 
ably occurred in 547 b. c, and the following year Cyrus began 
his gradual advance upon Babylonia. Marching from Arbela, he 
crossed the Tigris, conquered Mesopotamia up to the Babylonian 
frontier, and appointed Gobryas governor of the province thus 
acquired. The course of events for the next few years is somewhat 
obscure, but it would seem that Cyrus was occupied in suppressing 
revolts in the more distant portions of his dominions, and in or- 
ganizing his loosely cemented empire upon a more stable basis. 
There is reason to believe that during this time he also tampered 
with the disaffected element in the population of Babylonia, and 
so paved the way for an easy conquest. 

The Jewish exiles were anxiously expecting him to redeem 
them from captivity, and the tribes on the seacoast were ready to 
welcome a new master. In 538 b. c. the blow was struck. The 
Persian army entered Babylonia from the north. The army of 
Nabonidos was defeated in June; on the 14th of that month Sip- 
para opened its gates, and two days later Gobryas, the Persian 
general, marched into Babylon itself " without battle and fighting." 
The elaborate fortifications of Nebuchadrezzar had been in vain; 
traitors had worked. on the side of the invader. In October Cyrus 
himself entered his new capital in triumph; priests and scribes 
alike strove to do him honor, and to account him as one of their 
native kings. The fall of Nabonidos was attributed to his neglect 
of the gods, and the politic Cyrus did his best to encourage the 
illusion by professing, along with his son Kambyses, to be a zealous 



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162 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

worshiper of the Babylonian deities. Their images were restored 
to their shrines with great state, the Persian monarch and his heir- 
apparent taking part in the solemn processions, and the new sov- 
ereign styled himself, like his predecessors, " the worshiper " and 
" servant " of Bel-Merodach and Nebo. It is probable that the ruler 
of western Elam had always been a polytheist. Zoroastrian mono- 
theism was first made the state religion by Darius Hystaspes, be- 
fore whose time looser religious notions seem to have prevailed. 
The excesses of Kambyses in Egypt were dictated not by religious 
fanaticism, but by political suspicion, as is proved by the inscrip- 
tions in which he avows his adherence to the old Egyptian creed. 
The stele which commemorates the death of the Apis bull, said by 
Herodotos to have been slain by Kambyses, shows that, on the con- 
trary, it had died a natural death, had been buried under his 
auspices, and had monumental authority for accounting him one 
of its worshipers. 

The fall of Babylon brought with it the submission of the 
tributary kings, including those of Phoenicia. If we may listen to 
Greek legend, Cyrus fell in battle with the wild Scythian tribes of 
the northeast. But the same myths that grew up around his birth 
and early history seem also to have gathered round his death. Just 
as Persian ballads fastened upon him the old story of the solar 
hero who is exposed to death in infancy, and after being saved by 
miracle, and brought up in obscurity, is finally discovered and re- 
stored to his high estate, so too the old lesson of the punishment 
of human pride and greatness was taught by the legend of his 
death. The woman warrior Tomyris was made to quell the great 
conqueror, and to throw his head into the bowl of human blood 
where he might drink his fill. 

Before his death Cyrus had made his son Kambyses king of 
Babylon, reserving for himself the supreme title, " king of the 
world." His death occurred in 529 b. c, at least two years after- 
ward. The first act of Kambyses, as sole ruler, was to murder his 
brother Bardes, the Smerdis of Herodotos, to whom his father had 
bequeathed a portion of the empire. Then followed the invasion 
and cpnquest of Egypt, and the distant expeditions against Ethi- 
opia ah<j. the Oasis of Amon. The long absence of the monarch 
and the army soon produced its inevitable consequences. The 
loosely cemented empire began to fall to pieces. The Magian 
Gomates personated the murdered Bardes, and seized the throne. 



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TOMVRIS, (JlEEN OF THE SCYTHIAN TRIBE OF M ASSAOETES, LAVES THE 

HEAD OF CVRL'S THE GREAT IX BLOOD 

Painting by A. Zick 



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??., LENOX 
FOUNpATipN 



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PERSIA 163 

Kambyses hastened homeward to punish the usurper, and seems to 
have marched as far as Syria when he slew himself in a sudden fit 
of insanity. 

The reign of Gomates did not last a year. Darius, the son 
of Hystaspes, with six other Persian nobles, overthrew the usurper 
and slew him in Nisaea in Media, where he had taken refuge 
among his clansmen ,(S 21 B - c -)« Zoroastrianism was made the 
religion of the empire, the temples which Gomates had destroyed 
were restored, and the noble families of Persia and Media which 
had been banished by the usurper were brought back from exile. 
If we may trust Dr. Oppert's rendering of a passage in the " Proto- 
medic " transcript of the great Behistun Inscription, where Darius 
records the deeds and successes of his life, the Avesta or sacred 
book of Zoroastrianism, along with its commentary, was repub- 
lished and promulgated throughout the empire. 

The flight of Gomates was the signal for the massacre of all 
his followers and tribesmen who- were left in Persia. The Mago- 
phonia long continued to be a popular festival in Persia, when it 
was unsafe for a Magian to .venture out of doors. But the spirit 
of revolt was by no means extinguished. Immediately after the 
death of the pseudo-Bardes, Suslana and Babylonia alike shook off 
the Persian yoke. Under the leadership of Assina the Susians 
claimed again the freedom which Teispes had taken from them, and 
the extinction of the family of Cyrus seemed a favorable oppor- 
tunity for recovering it. Babylon revolted under Nadintu-Bel, who 
called himself "Nebuchadrezzar the son of Nabonidos," the last 
Babylonian king. But the Susian rebellion was soon put down. 
Babylon took longer to reduce. After defeating Nadintu-Bel at 
Zazan, Darius laid siege to the city. It was taken in June, 519 b. c, 
after a blockade of nearly two years, the Persians penetrating 
into the city during a festival by marching along the dry channel 
of the Euphrates. By this time, however, Media was in revolt 
under Phraortes, who called himself Khsathrita, the descendant 
of Kyaxares. Battle after battle was fought in Armenia by the 
Persian generals, until at last Phraortes was captured in Rhagae 
and impaled. 

It cost Darius some trouble yet to reconquer the empire of 
Cyrus. A second revolt, promptly suppressed, took place among 
the Susians, and a second one also among the Babylonians. This 
time it was an Armenian who professed to be Nebuchadrezzar, the 



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164 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

son of Nabonidos, but his career was soon closed by the capture 
of Babylon in 513 b. c. The Sagartians arose in unsuccessful in- 
surrection under a leader who claimed to be a descendant of the 
Median Kyaxares, a proof that the Median Empire had once in- 
cluded Sagartia. As the Parthians and Hyrkanians had followed 
Phraortes, we may perhaps infer that Parthia and Hyrkania also 
had formed part of the old Median monarchy. A second pseudo- 
Bardes also had to be crushed; he was a native of Tarava, the 
modern Tarun in Luristan, but, though born in Aryan territory, 
was followed not by Persians, but by Susianians. He, too, was 
defeated and slain in Arachosia. Margiana, moreover, had risen 
in revolt, but as unsuccessfully as the other provinces of the empire. 
Darius was at last free to organize and settle what he had won 
back with so much difficulty and labor. 

In the work of organization Darius proved himself a master. 
The empire was made a homogeneous whole, with its center at 
Susa or Shushan. For the first time in history centralization be- 
comes a political fact. The king was the source of all authority 
and all dignities; every subject was equal before the throne, which 
was the fountain of law. It is true that a council, consisting of the 
seven leading families and a hereditary sub-nobility, sat without the 
will of the king ; but this relic of a period when Persia had not yet 
become an empire had neither power nor influence against the 
bureaucracy which managed the government, and even the great 
king himself. The government of Persia became what the govern- 
ment of Turkey has been of late years — a highly centralized 
bureaucracy, the members of which owed their offices to an irre- 
sponsible despot. The centralization of Persia stands in marked 
contrast to the decentralization of Greece, as well as of the Aryan 
Medes themselves before the rise of the Median monarchy. The 
empire was divided into at least twenty satrapies, 8 communication 
being kept up between them by roads and posts which all met in 
Susa. Each satrap was responsible for a fixed tribute of from 170 
to 1000 Euboic silver talents ($210,000 to $1,250,000), out of 
which the civil and military officers, the army, and the satrap him- 
self were paid. It was of course the interest of the crown to prevent 
the provinces from being exhausted by additional taxation, but the 
satrap generally managed to squeeze a good deal more than the 

■Darius mentions twenty-three at Behistun, twenty-nine on his tomb at 
Naksh-i-Rustam. 



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PERSIA 165 

fixed tribute out of his subjects. The satraps were like small 
kings; indeed their official residences were called palaces, and in 
some cases, as for example in Cilicia, the native princes were al- 
lowed to hold rule. The danger to the government caused by the 
power of the satrap and his distance from the central authority was 
diminished in several ways. Royal scribes or secretaries were em- 
ployed to send up reports of the satraps and their actions to the 
king, and from time to time an officer came down from the court 
with an armed force to inspect a province. The satraps themselves 
were generally connected with the king by birth or marriage, and 
in Persia proper royal judges went on circuit at least once a year. 
According to Xenophon the control of the troops was further 
handed over to a separate commander, and it would seem that im- 
portant fortresses like Sardes were also intrusted to an independ- 
ent officer. Owing, however, to the weakness occasioned by this 
division of authority, the civil and military powers were united in 
the satrapies which bordered on dangerous enemies, such as the 
Greeks, and it was accordingly in these frontier satrapies that re- 
volts like that of the younger Cyrus broke out. The districts of 
which a satrapy was composed were not always contiguous. The 
imperial exchequer received no less than 7740 talents, or $14,820,- 
000, a year from nineteen of the provinces, which paid in silver, and 
of which Babylonia contributed the most, and 4680 Euboic talents, 
or $6,450,000, from the twentieth or Indian province, which paid 
in gold. The provinces had further to furnish tribute in kind, 
grain, sheep, and the like, and rates were levied in many places for 
the use of water and of the royal demesnes, while the taxes derived 
from such things as fisheries were farmed by the state. The gold 
and silver darics coined from the specie collected at Susa, and im- 
pressed with a rude representation of an archer, were remarkably 
pure, containing respectively 124 and 224 to 230 grains of pure 
metal. 

While this work of organization was being completed the 
empire was at peace. Then came a war against Iskunka, the Sakian 
chief, succeeded by a campaign in the East. The Indus was first 
explored by a naval expedition under Skylax, a Karian Greek ; this 
was followed by the conquest of the Punjab. Darius was now 
free to secure his northwestern frontier. The Scythian coast on 
the Black Sea was explored as the Indus had been, the Bosporus 
was bridged by Mandrokles the Samian, and the steppes of south- 



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166 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

ern Russia were swept by the Persian army. The impression left 
on the Scythian mind was never wiped out ; the empire was hence- 
forward safe on that side. Meanwhile Megabazas with another 
army had reduced Thrace, and made Macedonia a tributary 
kingdom. 

Shortly afterward, in 501 b. c, came the Ionic revolt Sardes 
was burned by the Athenians, and Darius, bent on vengeance, no 
longer delayed to listen to the exile Hippias, and to demand the 
submission of Athens and the restoration of its tyrant. Mardonios 
was sent against the offending city with a large army. But his 
fleet was wrecked off Mount Athos, and the land force surprised 
by the wild Thracian tribe of Briges. Two years later (in 490 
b. c.) the Persian army under Datis was again hurled against 
Attica; but Athenian valor at Marathon drove back a power 
hitherto held invincible, and saved Greece. For three years Asia 
was now astir with preparations for crushing the handful of citi- 
zens that had dared to resist the mighty Persian Empire. Fortu- 
nately for Athens, Egypt revolted at the moment when the prepara- 
tions were completed, in 487 b. c, and diverted the blow which 
would have fallen upon her. Before the revolt could be suppressed 
Darius died in the sixty-third year of his age and the thirty-sixth 
of his reign, 486 b. c. 

His son and successor, Xerxes, born in the purple, was a dif- 
ferent man from his father. Weak, vain, and luxurious, it need not 
surprise us that the huge and unwieldy host he led against Hellas 
returned shattered and discomfited, and that after the defeat of 
Mardonios with his picked Persian and Median troops at Plataea, 
the war that Persia carried into Europe should have recoiled back 
into Asia. The islands of the ;Egean, the Greek colonies of Asia 
Minor, the wild coasts of Thrace, the command of the Hellespont, 
were one by one wrested from the great king by Athenian skill and 
enterprise. The sole result of the attempt to enslave Greece was to 
found the Athenian Empire, and to make Athens the intellectual 
and artistic leader of the world then and thereafter. Before the 
campaign against Greece had been entered upon Xerxes had pun- 
ished the Babylonians for their murder of the satrap Zopyros by 
destroying the temple of Bel and the other shrines of the ancient 
gods. 

Xerxes was murdered by two of his courtiers in 466 b. c, at 
the instigation, it was believed, of Amestris, the only wife he had 



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XERXES WATCHES THE PROGRESS OF THE BATTLE OF SALAMIS FROM 

THE PROMONTORY OF ABYDOS AND VIEWS THE 

l)"STRl(TION OF HIS FLEET 

Pain ting by A. Zick 



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/ YORK 

JBRARY 



FOUNDATION 



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PERSIA 167 

ever married. His third son, Artaxerxes I. Longimanus, had to 
win his way to the throne by crushing the Baktrians under his 
brother Hystaspes, and murdering another brother. In 455 b. c. 
an Egyptian revolt was put down after lasting for five years, and 
in 449 b. c. a treaty of peace, known as that of Kallias, was made 
between Persia and Athens — Athens agreeing to relinquish 
Cyprus, and Persia renouncing her claims to supremacy over the 
Greek cities of Asia Minor. Not long afterward Megabazas, the 
satrap of Syria, revolted, and extorted terms of peace from his 
suzerain, the first open sign of the inner decay of the empire. 

Artaxerxes, who, like his father, had but one legitimate wife, 
Damaspia, was succeeded by his son Xerxes II., in 425 b. c, who 
was assassinated at a banquet forty-five days after by his illegiti- 
mate brother, Sekydianos or Sogdianos. Sogdianos was murdered 
in turn by Okhos, another bastard son of Artaxerxes, about six 
months later. Okhos took the name of Darius, and is known to 
history as Darius II. Nothos. 

He had married his aunt Parysatis, daughter of Xerxes, and 
his reign of nineteen years was one long series of revolts, most of 
which were crushed mercilessly. The first was headed by his 
brother Arsites ; then came those of Pissuthnes, the Lydian satrap, 
of Media, and of Egypt. The loss of Egypt, however, was com- 
pensated by the restoration of Persian authority over the Greeks 
of Asia Minor in consequence of the destruction of the Athenian 
power at Syracuse. 

Darius II. was followed by his son, Artaxerxes II. Mnemon, 
in 405 b. c, in spite of the efforts of his wife Parysatis to substi- 
tute for the latter her younger and abler son, Cyrus. Four years 
later Cyrus left his satrapy in Asia Minor and marched against 
his brother with about 13,000 Greek mercenaries and 100,000 
native troops. The battle of Cunaxa ended his life and his claim 
to the throne, and the retreat of the Greeks under Xenophon be- 
came one of the great feats of history. But the authority of the 
Persian king was gone in the West. Mysia, Pisidia, and Paphla- 
gonia were all practically independent; Sparta protected the Greek 
colonies, and her forces under Derkyllidas and Agesilaos made 
themselves masters of Western Asia, from 399 to 395 b. c, and 
might have anticipated Alexander had not Persian gold sowed dis- 
sension at home. A league was formed between Persia, Athens, 
and other Greek states; the Long Walls were rebuilt at Athens 



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168 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

with Persian money, and Sparta was forced to sign the disgraceful 
Peace of Antalcidas, in 387 b. c, by which all Asia was restored to 
the great king. In 379 b. c. Evagoras of Salamis, who, with Egyp- 
tian and Athenian help, had made Cyprus and Cilicia independent 
and conquered Tyre, was finally crushed. But the decay of the 
empire could not be checked. The satraps of Phrygia and Kappa- 
dokia shook off their allegiance, and in 362 b. c. a general but 
unsuccessful revolt took place in Asia Minor and Syria. Three 
years later Artaxerxes died at the age of ninety-four, according to 
the doubtful statement of Plutarch. His son and successor, Okhos, 
had already caused the deaths of three of his brothers, and his first 
act on mounting the throne was to destroy, as far as he could, the 
other princes of the royal family. His attempt to recover Egypt 
failed, and Phoenicia and Cyprus declared themselves free. Idrieus, 
vassal king of Karia, however, reduced Cyprus. Sidon, the head 
of the Phoenician revolt, was destroyed, and Egypt reconquered 
by the Persian general, the eunuch Bagoas, and the able Greek 
admiral, Mentor, the Rhodian. For six years there was peace, 
thanks to Bagoas, who had become vizier, and Mentor, who was 
intrusted with the protection of the seaboard. But in 338 b. c. 
Okhos was poisoned by his vizier, who raised his son Arses to the 
throne, after murdering all his brothers. Two years afterward 
Arses and his children were assassinated, and Bagoas now placed 
the crown on the head of a personal friend, Codomannus, the son 
of Arsanes. Codomannus, who took the name of Darius III., was 
not of the royal family, according to Strabo, though this is 
contradicted by Diodorus. It was not long before he was 
called upon to contest his empire with Alexander of Macedon. 
In the spring of 334 b. c. Alexander crossed the Hellespont with 
a force of over 30,000 foot and between four and five thou- 
sand horse. In May the battle of the Graneikos placed Asia 
Minor at his feet. Memnon, the brother of the Rhodian Mentor, 
the only Persian general equal to the task of checking the Mace- 
donian conqueror, died early in the following year, and Alexander 
was now free to advance into the heart of Persia. Darius and his 
army were well-nigh annihilated in the Pass of Issos on the Bay 
of Antioch (in November) ; his wife, mother, and baggage fell 
into the hands of the enemy; Tyre and Gaza were besieged and 
captured; Egypt was occupied by the Greeks; and at the Oasis of 
Amon Alexander was hailed as the son of Zeus. At length, in 



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PERSIA 169 

331 b. c, the decisive moment came. A new army had been col- 
lected by the Persian king from his eastern dominions, and was 
strongly posted about thirty miles from the site of Nineveh await- 
ing the attack of the Macedonians. The battle was fought in 
October at Gaugamela, twenty miles distant from Arbela, and 
ended with the total rout of the Persian host, the flight of Darius, 
and the fall of his empire. Alexander entered Babylon in triumph, 
assumed imperial pomp at Susa, where the spoils carried from 
Greece by Xerxes were discovered and sent back, and, if we may 
believe the current story, fired the royal palace of Persepolis in a 
fit of drunken insanity. Darius was then pursued, first to Ekba- 
tana, next to Rhagae and Baktria, where the hapless monarch was 
seized and finally murdered by the satrap Bessos. The reduction 
of the rest of the Persian Empire by Alexander quickly followed. 



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Chapter II 

RELIGION AND CULTURE 

THE religion of Persia was Zoroastrianism. But the nature 
and teaching of Zoroastrianism varied at different times 
and in different localities. The inscriptions make it plain 
that the Zoroastrianism of Darius and his successors was widely 
different from that of later times. The early populations of Media 
and Elam, dispossessed or overlaid by the Aryan invaders, had 
the same Shamanistic form of religion as the Sumerians of primi- 
tive Chaldea. They were grossly polytheistic, and the polytheism 
of Elam had in later days been largely affected by the religious be- 
liefs and practices of Semitic Babylonia, more especially by the 
worship of Nana or Ishtar. On the other hand, the Iranian emi- 
grants had monotheistic tendencies. The supreme god Ahura- 
mazda, " the lord who gives knowledge," tended to absorb all the 
other deities of the original Aryan creed. The gods of Vedic na- 
ture-worship became his attributes and creatures. But this nature- 
worship had included evil powers as well as beneficent powers, 
light as well as darkness, pain as well as pleasure, the serpent as 
well as the Sun-god who slays him. Gradually the conflict between 
these opposites assumed a moral form in the minds of the Iranian 
wanderers ; the struggle between night and day, between the storm 
and the blue sky, of which the Vedic poets sang, was transformed 
into a struggle between good and evil. In place of the careless 
nature-worshiper of the Punjab, a race of stern and earnest Puri- 
tans grew up among the deserts and rugged mountains of Ariana. 
Darmesteter has tried to show that the transformation and 
development were natural. But the attempt is unsuccessful. 
Though there is much in Zoroastrianism (or Mazdeism) that is 
clearly a natural development out of the elements we find in Vedic 
religion — though the fundamental ideas upon which Mazdeism 
rests have grown out of the conceptions common to all the primi- 
tive Aryans alike — it is nevertheless impossible to explain the in- 
dividual character that has been stamped upon it without assuming 

1T0 



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PERSIA 171 

the existence of an individual founder. We must accept the his- 
torical reality of Zoroaster or Spitama Zarathustra. Zoroastrian- 
ism implies a prophet as much as Mohammedanism. 

According to the usual opinion, this prophet lived and taught 
in Baktriana. Zend, the language of the Avesta, the sacred book 
of Mazdeism, differs dialectically from the Old Persian spoken 
in Persia proper by Darius and his subjects, and is ordinarily 
believed to have been the language of Baktriana. Darmesteter, 
however, supposes the original home of Mazdeism to have been 
Atropatene; but as he further supposes that Mazdeism did not 
take its start here till the sixth century b. c, his views do not clash 
with the received theory which makes Baktriana the first seat of 
Zoroastrianism and of the language of its sacred books. Another 
theory has been started by De Harlez. 1 He makes Rhagae (now 
Kaleh Erij) and Mouru or Meru the birthplace of the new creed 
in the seventh century b. c. But Rhagae, again, under the shadow 
of Mount Demavend, only marks a stage in the western progress 
of the Iranian tribes ; and the same Parsi legend which relates that 
the prophet was born in Rai or Rhagae makes him teach his re- 
ligion in Baktria at the court of King Vistasp. 

A more important question, however, remains behind. The 
two scholars just mentioned not only think that Zend was the lan- 
guage of Aryan Media rather than of Baktria, but they also hold 
that Mazdeism itself, as embodied in the Avesta, was taught and 
promulgated by the Magi. In the revolt of the pseudo-Bardes 
Darmesteter sees not an uprising of the old non-Aryan faith, but 
an attempt to impose the peculiar tenets of the priestly tribe of 
Magians upon the rest of the people. The chief arguments in 
favor of this hypothesis are sought in the classical writers. Strabo 
describes the Magi as a sacerdotal caste spread over the land, and 
Herodotus 2 states that it was the Magi who practiced the peculiarly 
Mazdean duty of killing noxious animals, and required the corpse 
to be devoured by birds, not buried in the ground. But in Strabo's 
time the old distinctions between the Aryan and the non-Aryan 
portions of the population had been obliterated, and the Greeks 
had come to apply the term Magian indiscriminately to the various 
priests and sorcerers of the East; while, as is shown in the note 

r 

1 See his exhaustive review of the subject in his "Introduction d V Etude 
de r Avesta," 1882. 

2 Strabo, xv. 14 ; Herodotos, i. 14a 



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172 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

upon the passage, the statement of Herodotos admits of another 
interpretation, and is corrected by his own description of the Magi 
elsewhere as a Median tribe, neither more nor less sacerdotal than 
the other five tribes mentioned along with them. Against these 
doubtful quotations we have the express testimony of Darius him- 
self, engraved on the rock of Behistun, where he tells us that the 
Magian usurpation had destroyed the temples of his gods and the 
sacred hymns of the Zoroastrian faith. 

According to Dr. Oppert the Behistun Inscription further in- 
forms us that the Avesta had existed before the days of the Magian 
revolt, and was restored by Darius after the revolt was suppressed. 
He would thus render a clause at the end of the inscription found 
only in the " Protomedic " transcript : " By the favor of Ormazd 
I have made elsewhere a collection of texts in the Aryan language, 
which formerly did not exist. And I have made a text of the law 
and a commentary on the law, and the prayer and the translations. 
And this was written, and I promulgated it; then I restored the 
ancient book in all countries, and the people followed it." The 
Persian equivalents of "the law" and "the prayer" are abasta 
and zandi, "Avesta" and "Zend." Whatever doubt may hang 
over the renderings of particular words, the general sense of this 
translation may be accepted; Darius claims to have restored the 
ancient writings that had been destroyed or injured by the Magian 
revolt. It is highly probable that both Cyrus and his son, as well 
as their predecessors, the kings of Anzan, had been almost equally 
responsible for the loss or neglect of the sacred books; and the 
fact that the people needed to be " taught " the law implies that 
among the Persians themselves a knowledge of the sacred texts 
of Zoroastrianism had been half forgotten. But the Avesta had 
not yet become a technical term. Abasta is rendered simply " law " 
and " laws " in the Elamite and Babylonian versions ; it was the 
pious care of Darius which first gave it its fixed and restricted 
sense. His words seem to show that the Zend text was translated 
into the Old Persian of his western provinces. 

We must not suppose, however, that the Avesta was completed 
at once, or that the beliefs and customs of the Sassanian age were 
familiar to the Persians in the age of the Akhaemenians. Darius 
speaks of other gods by the side of Ormazd; Ormazd is supreme 
among them ; he has created them, like all things else ; but never- 
theless other gods also exist. Temples, too, are erected to him and 



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PERSIA 178 

them, contrary to the later teaching of Mazdeism. The dead were 
buried, sometimes the living also, and there is no trace of those 
elaborate regulations in regard to purity which occupy so large 
a part of the Avesta, and must have been devised, as Breal has 
shown, at a time when Mazdeism had ceased to be the religion of 
the state. In fact, the sacred literature of Zoroastrianism was a 
slow and gradual growth, like the sacred literatures of most other 
religions. 

The five Gathas or " hymns," written in an older dialect than 
the rest of the Avesta, form the earliest portion of this literature. 
They are embodied in the Yasna, which, like the Visperad, is a 
collection of litanies for the sacrifice. Together with the Vendidad, 
a compilation of religious laws and mythical tales, the Yasna and 
Visperad make up the Avesta properly so called. By the side of 
this stands the Khorda Avesta or " Small Avesta," consisting of 
short prayers, and divided into the five Gah, the thirty formulae 
of the Sirozah, the three Afrigan, and the six Nyayish. To these 
are generally added the Yashts or hymns of praise, and a number 
of fragments, of which the most important is the Hadhokht Nosk. 
The sacredness of the Avesta is to some extent reflected on certain 
literature written in Pehlevi or medieval Persian toward the end 
of the Sassanian period, among which may be named the Bunde- 
hesh, an exposition of Mazdean cosmogony and mythology. This 
sacred literature, however, is but a fragment of what once existed ; 
according to Parsi tradition, the Vendidad is the only survivor of 
the twenty-one Nosks or books which formed the primitive Avesta 
revealed by Ormazd to Zoroaster, the eighteen Yashts were orig- 
inally thirty in number, and the Bnndehesh has many references 
which are not found in existing Zend texts. Hermippos 8 analyzed 
two million lines in the books of Zoroaster, and Pausanias heard 
Magian priests singing hymns from a book. 4 An old tradition 
which may be traced back to the Sassanian age asserts that the 
present Avesta consists of the fragments put together by the priests, 
partly from memory, after the destruction of the sacred books by 
Alexander the Great, and the Mohammedan conquest brought with 
it further injury and loss. 

Dr. Oppert thinks that a reference to Angro-Mainyus, the 
evil spirit, is found in an inscription of Darius. However this may 

■Pliny, Natural History, xxx. I, 2; Diogenes Laertius, Procem. & 
4 Pausanias, v. 27, 3. Cp. Herodotos, i. 132. 



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174 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

be, it is pretty clear that the distinctive dualism of Zoroastrian 
doctrine was already fully developed in Akhaemenian times. The 
world was divided into the mutually hostile kingdoms of good and 
evil, though Ormazd (Ahuramazda) had originally created all 
things, and evil would therefore be again swallowed up in the 
kingdom of good. On the side of Ormazd and the faithful fol- 
lower of his prophet stand the Ahuras or " living " spirits, called 
" gods " by Darius, and subsequently converted into the Yazatas 
(Izeds) or angels and the seven Amesha-Spentas (Amshash- 
pands), "the undying and well-doing ones." These, originally 
identical with the Adityas of Hindu mythology, became the deified 
abstractions, Vohu-mano ("good thought"), Asha Vahishta 
("excellent holiness"), Khshathra vaviya ("perfect sov- 
ereignty"), Spenta Armaiti ("divine piety"), Haurvatat 
("health"), and Ameretat ("immortality"). But Armaiti had 
once been the goddess of earth, like Vayu, the Wind-god, who 
appears in the Gathas, Varena " the sky," and Mithra " the sun." 
From the first Varena had been identified with Ormazd, or rather 
Varena was the supreme being specially invoked as Ahuramazda, 
while Mithra became in time his material symbol. Under the 
Akhaemenian dynasty, however, the complete absorption of Mithra 
into Ormazd had not yet been effected ; and though Darius shows 
no taint of Mithra-worship, his descendant Artaxerxes Mnemon, 
corrupted by Babylonian superstition, adopted the popular cult, and 
not only invoked the Sun-god Mithra, but even set up images to 
Anahit or Tanata, the Babylonian Nana, at Susa, at Persepolis, at 
Ekbatana, at Babylon, at Damascus, at Sardes, and at Baktra. 
The Mithraic worship of later days, which symbolized the passage 
of the sun into Taurus by the figure of a bull slain by a man, 
was the last survival of a faith that had once penetrated deeply into 
the minds of the people. 

Angro-Mainyus (Ahriman), "the dark spirit," the opponent 
of Ormazd, was primitively the darkness of night and storm. The 
Devas, or "gods," who had assisted him in the old mythological 
combat between night and day, became the demons of Mazdeism, 
and some of the gods of light also were in time included among 
them. The archangels and angels of good were matched by those 
of evil. Ako-mano (" bad thought ") opposes Vohu-mano (" good 
thought"), and with his companions, Sauru, the arrow of death, 
Indra, once the Rain-god of India, Naunhaithya (the Vedic Dios- 



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PERSIA 175 

kuri), Tauru and Zairi, sickness and decay, form the council of the 
prince of darkness. Whatever Ormazd creates, Ahriman destroys. 
At the head of the army of Ormazd is the priest-god Sraosha 
(Serosh), who first offered sacrifice to Ahura and sang the holy 
hymns. Thrice each day and night he descends to smite Angro- 
Mainyus and his crew — the Kahvaredhas and Kahvaredhis, the 
Kayadhas and Kayadhis, the Zandas and Yatus, Aeshma ("the 
raving"), the leader of the Drvants, Drukhs, "destruction," 
Daivis, " deceit," and Drivis, " poverty." Sraosha dwelt in a pal- 
ace of a thousand pillars, ornamented without by the stars, lit 
within by its own light, and reared on the peak of Elburz or De- 
mavend, to which the Olympos of Sumerian and Protomedic 
mythology had been transferred. The legend had filtered into 
Mazdeism through a " Protomedic " channel. 

The weapons with which the worshiper of Ormazd had to 
fight against his spiritual foes were prayer, sacrifice, purity, the 
sacrament of the Haoma, and various ceremonies, among which 
may be particularized the use of the khrafsthraghna or instrument 
for destroying noxious animals — the creation of Ahriman — and 
the baresma (barsom) or divining rod, which had played a large 
part in Sumerian religion, and must have been borrowed from the 
" Protomedic " part of the population. Sacrifice, which consisted 
partly of offerings, partly of prayers, aided the gods as well as men. 
The costliest victim was the horse, human sacrifices being ascribed 
to the Persians by Greek writers erroneously. The flesh of the 
victim was eaten by the priest and the worshipers ; the " soul " of 
it only was enjoyed by Ormazd. The Haoma was the Soma of 
the Indians, an intoxicating plant which symbolized the powers 
of vegetable life, and the juice of which was drunk by the faithful 
for the benefit of themselves and the gods. Answering to the 
yellow haoma of earth is the white haoma of heaven, which will 
make men immortal on the day of resurrection. For the Zoroas- 
trians believed in the immortality of the soul, and at least as early 
as the time of Theopompos 5 in a resurrection of the body. It 
was from them that Mohammed borrowed the notion of the narrow 
bridge (chinvat peretu) which the soul of the good passed safely 
by the help of Sraosha, while the wicked fell from it into the 
bottomless pit of Angro-Mainyus. Fire was from the first the 
sacred element ; it was the material manifestation of Ormazd, and 
nothing was allowed to pollute it. At one time, no doubt, fire 
5 Diog. Laert. Prooem. 9; ALn. Gaz. Dial, dc anim. immort p. 77. 



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176 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

itself was worshiped, like the primitive Aryan hearth on which 
it had originally blazed, the Atar, the Fire-god, held high rank 
among the Zoroastrians ; but eventually it became the medium 
through which the worshiper approached his deity. Earth and 
water were also reverenced, and since a corpse would have defiled 
these sacred elements, it was left to be devoured by the beasts and 
birds. The dog was a sacred animal, perhaps because of his scav- 
enger-like habits; but it is now difficult to explain the principles 
upon which certain animals were handed over to Ormazd and cer- 
tain others to Ahriman. 

The existence of the world was held to be limited. After 
twelve thousand years it was to end in winter or storm, to be fol- 
lowed by an eternal spring, when the earth would be repeopled 
by the risen bodies of the righteous. It is possible that this doctrine 
was taught as early as the time of Darius. But a later date must be 
assigned to the further conception of the final victory of good and 
absorption of evil into it. This conception led to the pure mono- 
theism which believed that above and beyond both Ormazd and 
Ahriman there was one abiding principle, called by various sects, 
Space or Infinite Light or Fate or Zrvan-akarana, "boundless 
time." The early date, however, at which the belief grew up 
may be judged from the fact that Eudemos, the pupil of Aristotle, 
already makes time and space the first principles of the Magi. 6 
But it is unknown to the greater part of the A vesta, from which 
we may infer the age of the latter. This is not the only instance 
in which we can assign a relative date to different portions of the 
sacred book. When the tenth Fargard or chapter of the Vendidad 
was written, and the nineteenth Yasht composed, the opposition 
between the six archangels and the six arch-fiends, mentioned in 
the Bundehesh and already found in Plutarch, was unknown, and, 
as Darmesteter says, "the stars were not yet members of the 
Ormazdean army when the bulk of the eighth Yasht was compiled." 
But the old opposition between the athrava or Mazdean priest and 
the magus or " Protomedic " sorcerer was already passing away ; 
under the unifying influences of the Persian Empire Magian and 
priest became inextricably confounded; the Magian adopted the 
outlines of the Zoroastrian faith, and in later days hardened them 
into a system of sacerdotal laws and lifeless ceremonies; while 
the priest took over the beliefs of the older population, modifying 
and altering them in the process. Thus, as Lenormant has 
•Ap. Damascium, cd. Kopp 384. 



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PERSIA ITT 

shown, the spirits of the Shamanistic cult of Sumer and Elam were 
changed into the fravashis or fervers of Mazdeism, the genii which 
correspond with all created things, and watch over the servants 
of Ormazd. 

A rich mythology was associated with the religion of Zoroas- 
ter. The cosmogony of his followers and the successive creations 
of Ormazd, the places, possibly, occupied by the Iranians in their 
westward migration, may be read in the Bundehesh and the first 
Fargard of the Vendidad. The paradise of the Aryan races was 
laid in Airyanem vaejo, between the Oxus and Jaxartes, where 
they were ruled in the golden age by Yima, the son of Vivanghvat 
— called Yama, son of Vivasvat, in the Veda — the first man, the 
lord of the departed, originally the evening darkness. In the 
Shahnameh of Firdusi, the great epic of medieval Persia, Yima 
became Jemshid. But the sovereign light, the hwareno, was car- 
ried off from Yima Khshaeta, " the shining Yima," by the three- 
headed serpent of night, Azhi-dahaka, the biting snake, the tyrant 
Zohak of Firdusi's epic. Thraetaona, the son of Athwyo, was the 
Chosen hero who subdued the monster, and whom the Shahnameh 
has changed into Feridun. Born in the " four-cornered Varena " 
or heaven, he is the Vedic Traitana or Trita Aptya, " the dawn, the 
son of the waters," whose name reappears in the Homeric epithet 
of Athena, rptro/ivtta. The serpent was bound to the highest peak 
of Demavend, not to be loosed till the end of the world, when he 
will be slain by Keresaspa, the Gershasp of Firdusi, the Krishashva 
of Hindu legend. Keresaspa has already killed other monstrous 
creations of Ahriman, Shravara, the Greek Kerberos, among them, 
and his reign restored the glory of that of Yima. When Azhi- 
dahaka is finally slain, a son, Saoshyant, will be born to Zoroaster 
who will bring eternal life and light to glorified mankind, as his 
father once brought them the law and the truth. 

Persian art was derived from Babylonia through that of 
Susiana. But it lacked the humorous freedom of Babylonian art; 
it was stiff, severe, and formal. The carved gems were poor imita- 
tions of those of Chaldea; even the signet of Darius is rudely 
cut, and shows little artistic skill. The palaces were raised on 
lofty platforms like those of Babylonia, where such a protection 
from the marshy ground was needful; and the platforms were 
adorned with broad, handsome flights of stairs which led to their 
top. The buildings which stood on them were comparatively small 



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178 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

and low, but this was compensated by a profusion of light and ele- 
gant columns. The columns, again, were due to Babylonian in- 
spiration, and their capitals, with sitting figures of animals, placed 
back to back and turned sideways toward the spectators, resemble 
those of Babylon and Nineveh. The coloring of the walls and 
ceilings was also borrowed from Babylonia, and the bas-reliefs 
with which the walls were ornamented find their counterpart in 
the palaces of Assyria. But the subjects were treated in Baby- 
lonian and not Assyrian style ; Gilgamesh, transformed into a Per- 
sian hero, again slays the demon monster with all the thickness of 
limb that characterized Babylonian art, and the Babylonian rosette 
makes its appearance everywhere. On the other hand, the long 
processions of men and animals, the winged solar disk that sym- 
bolizes Ormazd, and the struggle between the lion and the bull, 
remind us of Assyria, though the treatment is thoroughly Baby- 
lonian. We feel that the same Sumerian artists who inspired the 
art of Babylonia must have inspired the art of Persia, as well as 
the lost art of Elam which preceded it. As in Babylonia, the ani- 
mal figures are better than the human ones. The winged bulls 
which guard the entrances of the palaces are Assyrian; not so, 
however, the fashion of ornamenting the panels of the doorways 
with figures in relief. On the whole, Persian work in relief is 
clumsy, but vigorous. 

The same substantial solidity characterizes the architecture, in 
spite of the forests of pillars, by which its general effect was light- 
ened. The platforms and staircases are alike massive, the walls are 
thick, the doors too narrow for their height. On the other hand, 
a spirit of harmony and proportion is everywhere observable. The 
doors exactly face each other; the columns are erected in uniform 
rows. Egyptian influence may perhaps be detected in the propy- 
laea through which the royal palaces were approached, as well as 
in the headdress of the man who has the attributes of the winged 
Asiatic goddess on one of the pillars of the tomb falsely ascribed 
to Cyrus at Murghab. 

Persian architecture may best be studied in the remains of the 
palace near Persepolis, burned by Alexander. The buildings erected 
on the different terraces which form the platform were not con- 
nected with one another. Of the five largest buildings, one was 
the palace of Darius, the second that of Xerxes, and the third 
that of Artaxerxes Okhos, while the other two are known as the 



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.^ PRATT* i 



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PERSIA 179 

Chehl Minar or hall of a hundred columns— supported as it was 
by a hundred columns in ten rows of ten, each thirty-five feet 
high and twenty feet distant from its companion — and the Eastern 
Palace. The latter contains four groups of pillars, the largest 
being a square of thirty-six pillars in six rows of six, and covering 
an area of over twenty thousand square feet The rooms seem to 
have been built round the walls of the several palaces, while a por- 
tico of columns fronted the visitor. 

The tombs of the Persian monarchs consisted of chambers 
cut out of the rock, that at Murghab alone excepted. 

Persian literature has perished, with the exception of the older 
parts of the Avesta, though the references to it in Herodotos, 
Ktesias, and other classical writers show, that a good deal once 
existed. The so-called historical literature, however, seems to 
have resembled Firdusi's Shahnameh, or the histories of foreign 
nations given by Arabic authors, and to have been mostly leg- 
endary. The cursive writing employed for this literature is un- 
known. The cuneiform alphabet, used for monumental purposes, 
was probably introduced in the reign of Darius. The tomb at 
Murghab, which bears the cuneiform legend, " I am Cyrus, the 
king, the Akhaemenian," cannot belong to the older Cyrus, since 
Murghab was not Pasargadae, where he was buried. It is possibly 
the sepulcher of the satrap of Egypt, the brother of Xerxes, who 
is called Akhaemenes by Ktesias. This would explain the Egyptian 
headdress of the sculpture which adorns it. It may, however, have 
been intended to commemorate a cult of Cyrus; at any rate, the 
figure represented in the sculptures is not that of a human being, 
but of a god. The cuneiform alphabet was last employed by Arta- 
xerxes Okhos. 

The Persians were not a commercial people, and the trade of 
the empire was therefore left in the hands of their subjects. The 
coinage of Darius was, however, remarkably pure. Various de- 
vices were cut upon one side of the coin, but the only inscription 
known is one in Greek letters which records the name Pythagoras. 
Pythagoras may have been a captain of the mercenaries, since a 
Greek inscription on the upturned base of a column at Susa is dedi- 
cated by " Pythagoras, son of Aristarkhos, captain of the body- 
guard," to " his friend Arreneides, the son of Arreneides, governor 
of Susiana." Attic coins were allowed to pass current in Persia, 
after being impressed with a mark in the shape of a bar. 



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180 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

The Persian form of government after the reign of Darius 
has already been described. Its nearest parallel in modern times 
is that of the Turkish Empire. But the exaggerated flattery and 
mean-spirited subservience of the Persian toward his monarch 
would indeed be hard to match. His dress implied a cold climate. 
Drawers and boots were worn by all classes, stockings and gloves 
by the rich. Horses were largely employed both in war and in 
peace, and the Persian bowmen were celebrated. Spiked balls were 
strewn over the field of battle by Darius Codomannus, and there 
were six ranks of military officers under the commander-in-chief, 
who was always a Persian or a Mede. Prisoners of war were 
treated kindly, unless they happened to be rebels. The luxury and 
etiquette of the court were proverbial. The harem was guarded 
by a dense body of eunuchs, and the king seldom emerged from the 
secrecy of his palace. Cooks and "tasters" abounded, and the 
king reclined on a couch with golden feet, drinking the wine of 
Helbon, while an inferior beverage was served to his guests seated 
below. Drunkenness, it may be observed, was as much a Persian 
failing as truthfulness was reputed to be a Persian virtue. Hunt- 
ing, more especially battue shooting in paradeisoi or enclosed parks, 
shared the monarch's time with dice playing, at which large bets 
were lost and won. Criminals were put to death for slight offenses 
and in peculiarly cruel ways, and distinctions of class were rigidly 
maintained. Polygamy was allowed, education neglected, and the 
queen-mother permitted to exercise an injurious influence over the 
king, court, and the empire. In short, the empire contained within 
it from the first all the elements of decay, and the Persian character 
was one which could with difficulty be respected and never loved. 



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HISTORY OF ARABIA 



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HISTORY OF ARABIA 

Chapter I 

EARLY HISTORY OF THE ARABIAN PENINSULA 

FROM the dawn of history the Arabian peninsula has been the 
possession of the Semitic race. Here was their earliest home, 
here they developed their racial characteristics, and their re- 
ligious and social institutions. Forced at times to submit to foreign 
dominion, the sons of the soil have always reclaimed their ancient 
patrimony, and even at the present day the land, though it forms 
part of the Turkish Empire, yields barely a nominal obedience to 
the rule of the Sultan. From this cradle of the race proceeded the 
movements which resulted in establishing all the ancient Semitic 
states known to history. For a very large portion of the soil 
of Arabia is sterile, and the race has ever been prolific. Sooner 
or later the time must come when the resources of the land were 
exhausted and a portion of the population must seek relief in 
migration. At first a few clans would find their way to the bor- 
ders of the more fertile neighboring lands. These would be followed 
by other and larger bodies, until finally, their numbers swelled by 
constant accessions, they burst like a tidal wave over the more de- 
sirable portions of Western Asia. As early as the fourth millennium 
b. c. Arab tribes had dispossessed the original Sumerian inhabitants 
and gained possession of Babylonia, where the conquerors soon 
imbibed Babylonian culture, grafting upon it, however, many ele- 
ments of their own. In the following millennium swarms from the 
ancient Semitic motherland reconquered Babylonia from their rela- 
tives and predecessors, and established themselves in Assyria. The 
same tide of immigration brought Palestine and the Mediterranean 
coast into the hands of Semites, and thence a branch of the race, 
the Phoenicians, spread their colonies over the isles and coasts of 
the sea as far as Spain. Later the Chaldean tribes made their way 
along the shores of the Persian Gulf into Babylonia, where they 
furnished the last dynasty of rulers to that ancient land between 
the Tigris and the Euphrates, and the Arameans pushed northward 

183 



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184 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

into Mesopotamia, overthrowing the Hittite dominion in Western 
Asia and eventually establishing a strong kingdom with Damascus 
as its capital. The last great Semitic movement occurred in the 
seventh century of our own era, when the tribes of Arabia united 
under the banner of Islam and, animated by a common religious 
fervor, swept over the ancient culture lands of the East, gained 
permanent possession of Egypt and northern Africa, conquered 
Spain, and, but for their repulse at the battle of Tours in 732 a. d., 
all Europe might have fallen a prey to their arms. 

But while these great movements, all proceeding from Arabia 
as a common focus, may readily be traced, the internal history of 
the country before Islam presents peculiar difficulties, and it is 
only by the aid of recent epigraphic discoveries that even an outline 
can be gathered. Formerly the only sources of information upon 
this subject were the Old Testament, the cuneiform inscriptions, 
the writings of Greek authors, and the Mohammedan historians. 
The first of these sources contains a number of references to 
Arabia, but they are chiefly valuable when interpreted in the light 
of modern discoveries. The cuneiform annals throw some light 
upon northern Arabia during the eighth and seventh centuries 
b. c. ; of southern and central Arabia they have nothing to tell. 
The Greek historians have been found to be utterly unreliable, 
while the Mohammedan writers present only legendary and dis- 
torted accounts. From such material no true or complete picture 
of ancient Arabian history can be hoped. There is, however, still 
another source of information, though it has not been available 
until comparatively recent times. Arabia abounds in ancient in- 
scriptions scattered throughout the country, and explorers have 
not been wanting who, undeterred by the difficulties and dangers 
attending the work, have labored to collect them. Since 1810, 
when Seetzen sent from Mocha five Sabean inscriptions, a very 
considerable amount of epigraphic material has gradually accu- 
mulated. In 1845 T. J. Arnaud copied fifty-six inscriptions in 
Marib, Sana, and Sirwach, and fifteen years later Colonel Cogh- 
lan sent to England more than twenty inscribed bronze tablets from 
Amran. In 1869 the French epigraphist, Joseph Halevy, dis- 
guised as a poor Jew of Jerusalem, traveled through southern 
Arabia and collected more than seven hundred inscriptions. But 
even greater success attended the efforts of the Austrian, Edward 
Glaser, who in four long journeys between 1882 and 1894. col- 



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ARABIA 186 

lected an amount of material far exceeding all his predecessors. 
Unfortunately only a small part of Glaser's collections has as yet 
been published. 

The Arabian inscriptions are almost altogether of a religious 
character and relate chiefly to offerings to the gods in return for 
favors past or to come. Few allusions to historical events occur, 
but the name of the reigning sovereign is usually given, and much 
information may be gathered in regard to existing social and po- 
litical conditions. In this way, with the aid of the sources cited 
above, an outline at least of ancient Arabian history can be formed. 
It must, however, be remembered that large districts of southern 
Arabia are as yet entirely unexplored, and it can hardly be doubted 
that future exploration, systematically carried out, will add greatly 
to the existing knowledge of the subject. 

At some time before the third millennium b. c, when the 
ancestors of the Assyrians, Hebrews, and Phoenicians migrated 
northward into the settlements later occupied by them, another 
Arabian tribe, styling themselves Mineans, appear to have moved 
southward and established themselves in the central part of 
southern Arabia. Here they founded the kingdom of Ma'in 
with Karnawu — the Kama of Greek writers — as its capital. To 
the south and east of Ma'in were Kataban and Hadhramaut, of 
whose history little is known save that they continued to preserve 
a separate, if not an independent, existence down to a late period, 
and are well known to Greek writers. When the earliest inscrip- 
tions begin, about the fourteenth century b. c, Ma'in was evidently 
a kingdom of long standing, exhibiting a firm political organiza- 
tion and a considerable degree of culture. Commerce was the 
basis of its wealth and power, and it commanded an important 
trade route from India to the Mediterranean, to whose shores the 
influence of Ma'in extended. Gaza was its Mediterranean port, 
and the strong colony of Musran or Musri, in the Biblical land 
of Midian, served to guard and keep open the way to the sea. 
Musri is several times mentioned in the Old Testament, but hith- 
erto it has generally been confounded with Egypt by the com- 
mentators. Four other districts mentioned in the Old Testament 
have been identified by the aid of the old Arabian inscriptions. 
They are : Ashur and Eber, corresponding approximately to Edom ; 
Jareb, lying somewhat farther east, and Kush, in central Arabia. 
Ashur and Kush have hitherto usually been mistaken for Assyria 



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186 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

and Ethiopia, and their correct identification throws new light on 
the Biblical passages in which they occur. No inscriptions have 
been found in any of these districts except Musri, and little is 
known of their history. It seems probable, however, that their 
inhabitants were nomads with no permanent political organization. 

The kingdom of Ma'in seems to have endured from the date 
of its earliest appearance in contemporary records for some seven 
hundred years, or from about 1400 to about 700 b. c. The names 
of twenty-five of its kings have been found in the inscriptions, and 
in the majority of cases their genealogical connection can be 
traced. For some time before the kingdom comes to an end 
evidence of its decline may be observed. The important colony of 
Musri seems to have thrown off the yoke of the mother country 
and obtained its independence perhaps as early as the ninth century 
b. c. It was clearly independent in the eighth century, when 
Tiglath-Pileser (745-727 b. c.) made it tributary to Assyria and 
appointed as its governor the Arab sheik, Idibi'il; and Pir'u, 
King of Musri, is mentioned in the annals of Sargon (721-705 
b. a). An important indication of the decline of Ma'in is the fact 
that in the latest Minean inscriptions the aid and protection of the 
gods of the Sabeans are frequently invoked, a direct confession 
of Minean weakness and an acknowledgement of Sabean superiority. 

The Sabeans, originally a nomadic people of northwestern 
Arabia, seem to have moved southward about the ninth or eighth 
century b. c. Toward the close of the latter century Sargon (721- 
705), King of Assyria, mentions Itamara the Sabean as one of the 
northern Arabian chiefs who paid tribute to him, and the pres- 
sure of the Assyrian armies may have hastened the southward 
movement of the tribe. Gradually they acquired settlements on 
the borders of Ma'in, and ere long several towns which formerly 
acknowledged Minean supremacy came under their dominion. The 
earliest chiefs of the Sabeans bore the title of Mukarrib, a term 
difficult of explanation, but which seems, however, to designate a 
ruler who was at once the religious and political head of his 
people. About 700 b. c. the kingdom of Ma'in fell before the 
Sabean Mukarribs, and thereafter appears no more among the 
southern Arabian states. The Mukarribs welded together the scat- 
tered remnants of Ma'in and its provinces into a new kingdom, and 
from about 550 b. c. they bear the title of kings of Saba — the 
Biblical Sheba. In the consolidation of their new dominion they 



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ARABIA 187 

encountered serious opposition, notably from Kataban and Hadhra- 
maut, on the southern coast, but finally the greater part of southern 
Arabia was brought under their sway. On the other hand Saba 
encountered a deadly blow in the loss of the Indian trade. Under 
the Ptolemies the sea route to India by way of the Red Sea was 
opened, and the important trade that formerly crossed Arabia in 
caravans was diverted to the new route. After the loss of this, 
its main source of wealth and influence, Saba sank lower and lower 
until about 115 b. c. the supremacy of southern Arabia passed into 
the hands of the Himyarites, a people who originally dwelt in the 
southwestern corner of the Arabian peninsula. The new sov- 
ereigns, who add to their title the name of their ancestral castle 
and style themselves kings of Saba and Raidan, ruled until about 
300 a. d. In the year 26 b. c. a Roman army under iElius Gallus 
attempted the conquest of southern Arabia, but the expedition ut- 
terly failed, and the land was for centuries thereafter secure from 
foreign invasion. 

Under the rule of the Sabean kings there was an extensive 
migration from southwestern Arabia into Africa across the Straits 
of Bab-el-Mandeb, and this migration resulted in the Semitic 
occupation of Abyssinia. Under the dominion of the Himyar- 
ites, their close kinsmen, descendants of these Abyssinian emi- 
grants returned in large numbers to southern Arabia, and there 
gradually attained to an influential position in the state. About 
300 a. d. they had become the controlling element and were able 
to overthrow the Himyarite sovereignty and to establish themselves 
as rulers of a new kingdom, under the title of kings of Saba and 
Raidan, of Hadhramaut and Yemen. Their rule, however, lasted 
but for a brief period. After the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus, 
the Jews were scattered in every direction, and large numbers of 
them settled in southern Arabia, where they engaged in commerce, 
and some became wealthy and powerful. In course of time, making 
common cause with the Himyarites, they expelled the Abyssinian 
intruders and established a Jewish dynasty, whose best-known rep- 
resentative was the celebrated king, Dhu Nuwas. In the mean- 
time Christianity had been brought from Egypt into Abyssinia, 
and, spreading thence to southern Arabia, made rapid progress 
there. According to Christian legends the followers of the new 
religion were cruelly persecuted by their Jewish rulers, especially 
by King Dhu Nuwas. In 525 a. d. the Christian Abyssinians 



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188 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

came to the aid of their oppressed brethren, the Jewish rule was 
overthrown, and southern Arabia was once more under Abyssinian 
dominion. The Christian supremacy, however, endured for hardly 
fifty years. The old noble families in their strong castles held 
sullenly aloof from both Judaism and Christianity, and remained 
attached to their ancient heathen religion. About 575 a. d. they 
summoned the Persians, who made themselves masters of the 
land, and established their governors in Yemen. The Persian rule, 
like that of the Christian Abyssinians, was of brief duration. Little 
more than half a century later the teaching of the Prophet spread 
throughout the ancient dominion of the Sabeans, and the whole 
Arabian peninsula was permanently united in Islam. From this 
point the history of the land is traced in the eloquent pages of 
Gibbon, which follow. 

Note. — In the succeeding chapters on the history of Arabia, including the 
rise and fall of the Moslem Empire, by Gibbon, the reader will bear in mind and 
make due allowance for the author's well-known bias against Christianity. 



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Chapter II 

ARABIA BEFORE THE COMING OF MOHAMMED 

IN the vacant space between Persia, Syria, Egypt, and Ethiopia 
the Arabian peninsula may be conceived as a triangle of spa- 
cious but irregular dimensions. From the northern point of 
Beles on the Euphrates a line of fifteen hundred miles is terminated 
by the Straits of Bab-el-mandeb and the land of frankincense. 
About half this length may be allowed for the middle breadth, from 
east to west, from Bassora to Suez, from the Persian Gulf to the 
Red Sea. The sides of the triangle are gradually enlarged, and 
the southern basis presents a front of a thousand miles to the Indian 
Ocean. The entire surface of the peninsula exceeds in a fourfold 
proportion that of Germany or France; but the far greater part 
has been justly stigmatized with the epithets of the " stony " and 
the " sandy." Even the wilds of Tatary are decked by the hand 
of nature with lofty trees and luxuriant herbage ; and the lonesome 
traveler derives a sort of comfort and society from the presence of 
vegetable life. But in the dreary waste of Arabia a boundless level 
of sand is intersected by sharp and naked mountains, and the face 
of the desert, without shade or shelter, is scorched by the direct 
and intense rays of a tropical sun. Instead of refreshing breezes, 
the winds, particularly from the southwest, diffuse a noxious and 
even deadly vapor; the hillocks of sand which they alternately 
raise and scatter are compared to the billows of the ocean, and 
whole caravans, whole armies, have been lost and buried in the 
whirlwind. The common benefits of water are an object of desire 
and contest, and such is the scarcity of wood that some art is 
requisite to preserve and propagate the element of fire. Arabia 
is destitute of navigable rivers, which fertilize the soil and convey 
its produce to the adjacent regions; the torrents that fall from 
the hills are imbibed by the thirsty earth; the rare and hardy 
plants, the tamarind or the acacia, that strike their roots into the 
clefts of the rocks, are nourished by the dews of the night; a 
scanty supply of rain is collected in cisterns and aqueducts; the 

189 



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190 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

wells and springs are the secret treasure of the desert; and the 
pilgrim of Mecca, after many a dry and sultry march, is disgusted 
by the taste of the waters which have rolled over a bed of sulphur 
or salt. Such is the general and genuine picture of the climate of 
Arabia. The experience of evil enhances the value of any local or 
partial enjoyments. A shady grove, a green pasture, a stream 
of fresh water, are sufficient to attract a colony of sedentary 
Arabs to the fortunate spots which can afford food and refreshment 
to themselves and their cattle, and which encourage their industry 
in the cultivation of the palm tree and the vine. The highlands 
that border on the Indian Ocean are distinguished by their superior 
wealth of wood and water; the air is more temperate, the fruits 
are more delicious, the animals and the human race are more 
numerous, the fertility of the soil invites and rewards the toil 
of the husbandman; and the peculiar gifts of frankincense and 
coffee have attracted in different ages the merchants of the world. 
If it be compared with the rest of the peninsula, this sequestered 
region may truly deserve the appellation of the " happy " ; and 
the splendid coloring of fancy and fiction has been suggested by 
contrast, and countenanced by distance. It was for this earthly 
paradise that nature had reserved her choicest favors and her most 
curious workmanship: the incompatible blessings of luxury and 
innocence were ascribed to the natives, the soil was impregnated 
with gold and gems, and both the land and sea were made to 
exhale the odors of aromatic sweets. This division of the " sandy," 
the "stony," and the "happy," so familiar to the Greeks and 
Latins, is unknown to the Arabians themselves ; and it is singular 
enough that a country whose language and inhabitants have ever 
been the same should scarcely retain a vestige of its ancient geog- 
raphy. The maritime districts of Bahrein and Oman are opposite to 
the realm of Persia. The kingdom of Yemen displays the limits, 
or at least the situation, of Arabia Felix: the name of Neged is 
extended over the inland space ; and the birth of Mohammed has 
made illustrious the province of Hejaz along the coast of the 
Red Sea. 

The measure of population is regulated by the means of sub- 
sistence, and the inhabitants of this vast peninsula might be out- 
numbered by the subjects of a fertile and industrious province. 
Along the shores of the Persian Gulf, of the ocean, and even of the 
Red Sea, the ichthyophagi, or fish-eaters, continued to wander in 



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ARABIA 191 

quest of their precarious food. In this primitive and abject state, 
which ill deserves the name of society, the human brute, without 
arts or laws, almost without sense or language, is poorly distin- 
guished from the rest of the animal creation. Generations and 
ages might roll away in silent oblivion, and the helpless savage 
was restrained from multiplying his race by the wants and pursuits 
which confined his existence to the narrow margin of the seacoast 
In an early period of antiquity the great body of the Arabs had 
emerged from this scene of misery; and as the naked wilderness 
could not maintain a people of hunters, they rose at once to the 
more secure and plentiful condition of the pastoral life. The same 
life is uniformly pursued by the roving tribes of the desert, and in 
the portrait of the modern Beduins we may trace the features of 
their ancestors who, in the age of Moses or Mohammed, dwelt 
under similar tents and conducted their horses and camels and 
sheep to the same springs and the same pastures. Our toil is 
lessened and our wealth is increased by our dominion over the 
useful animals ; and the Arabian shepherd had acquired the absolute 
possession of a faithful friend and a laborious slave. Arabia, in 
the opinion of the naturalist, is the genuine and original country 
of the horse; the climate most propitious, not indeed to the size, 
but to the spirit and swiftness of that generous animal. The merit 
of the Barb, the Spanish and the English breed, is derived from 
a mixture of Arabian blood, and the Beduins preserve, with super- 
stitious care, the honors and the memory of the purest race. The 
males are sold at a high price, but the females are seldom alien- 
ated, and the birth of a noble foal was esteemed among the tribes 
as a subject of joy and mutual congratulation. These horses are 
educated in the tents, among the children of the Arabs, with a 
tender familiarity which trains them in the habits of gentleness 
and attachment. They are accustomed only to walk and to gallop, 
and their sensations are not blunted by the incessant abuse of the 
spur and the whip. Their powers are reserved for the moments 
of flight and pursuit, but no sooner do they feel the touch of the 
hand or the stirrup than they dart away with the swiftness of the 
wind, and if their friend be dismounted in the rapid career they 
instantly stop till he has recovered his seat In the sands of 
Africa and Arabia the camel is a sacred and precious gift. That 
strong and patient beast of burden can perform, without eating 
or drinking, a journey of several days; and a reservoir of fresh 



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19S ANCIENT EMPIRES 

water is preserved in a large bag, a fifth stomach of the animal, 
whose body is imprinted with the marks of servitude. A larger 
breed is capable of transporting a weight of a thousand pounds, 
and the dromedary, of a lighter and more active frame, outstrips 
the fleetest courser in the race. Alive or dead, almost every part 
of the camel is serviceable to man: her milk is plentiful and nu- 
tritious, the young and tender flesh has the taste of veal, a valuable 
salt is extracted from the urine, the dung supplies the deficiency 
of fuel, and the long hair, which falls each year and is renewed, is 
coarsely manufactured into the garments, the furniture, and the 
tents of the Beduins. In the rainy seasons they consume the rare 
and insufficient herbage of the desert ; during the heats of summer 
and the scarcity of winter they remove their encampments to the 
seacoast, the hills of Yemen, or the neighborhood of the Euphrates, 
and have often extorted the dangerous license of visiting the banks 
of the Nile and the villages of Syria and Palestine. The life of a 
wandering Arab is a life of danger and distress ; and, though some- 
times by rapine or exchange he may appropriate the fruits of in- 
dustry, a private citizen in Europe is in the possession of more 
solid and pleasing luxury than the proudest emir who marches in 
the field at the head of ten thousand horse. 

Yet an essential difference may be found between the hordes 
of Scythia and the Arabian tribes, since many of the latter were 
collected into towns and employed in the labors of trade and agri- 
culture. A part of their time and industry was still devoted to the 
management of their cattle. They mingled, in peace and war, 
with their brethren of the desert, and the Beduins derived from 
their useful intercourse some supply of their wants and some rudi- 
ments of art and knowledge. Among the forty-two cities of Ara- 
bia enumerated by Abulfeda, the most ancient and populous were 
situated in the "happy" Yemen. The towers of Sana and the 
marvelous reservoir of Marib were constructed by the kings of 
the Himyarites, but their profane luster was eclipsed by the pro- 
phetic glories of Medina and Mecca, near the Red Sea, and at the 
distance from each other of two hundred and seventy miles. The 
last of these holy places was known to the Greeks under the name 
of Macoraba ; and the termination of the word is expressive of its 
greatness, which has not, indeed, in the most flourishing period, 
exceeded the size and populousness of Marseilles. Some latent 
motive, perhaps of superstition, must have impelled the founders 



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ARABIA 193 

in the choice of a most unpromising situation. They erected their 
habitations of mud or stone in a plain about two miles long and 
one mile broad, at the foot of three barren mountains. The soil 
is a rock, the water even of the holy well of Zemzem is bitter or 
brackish, the pastures are remote from the city, and grapes are 
transported above seventy miles from the gardens of Tayef. The 
fame and spirit of the Koreishites, who reigned in Mecca, were con- 
spicuous among the Arabian tribes; but their ungrateful soil re- 
fused the labors of agriculture, and their position was favorable 
to the enterprises of trade. By the seaport of Gedda, at the dis- 
tance only of forty miles, they maintained an easy correspondence 
with Abyssinia, and that Christian kingdom afforded the first refuge 
to the disciples of Mohammed. The treasures of Africa were 
conveyed over the peninsula to Gerrha or Katif, in the province 
of Bahrein, a city built, as it is said, of rock-salt, by the Chal- 
dean exiles; and thence, with the native pearls of the Persian 
Gulf, they were floated on rafts to the mouth of the Euphrates. 
Mecca is placed almost at an equal distance, a month's journey, 
between Yemen on the right and Syria on the left hand. The 
former was the winter, the latter the summer, station of her cara- 
vans; and their seasonable arrival relieved the ships of India from 
the tedious and troublesome navigation of the Red Sea. In the 
markets of Sana and Marib, in the harbors of Oman and Aden, 
the camels of the Koreishites were laden with a precious cargo of 
aromatics; a supply of corn and manufactures was purchased in 
the fairs of Bosra and Damascus, the lucrative exchange diffused 
plenty and riches in the streets of Mecca, and the noblest of her 
sons united the love of arms with the profession of merchandise. 

The perpetual independence of the Arabs has been the theme 
of praise among strangers and natives, and the arts of controversy 
transform this singular event into a prophecy and a miracle, in 
favor of the posterity of Ishmael. Some exceptions, that can 
neither be dismissed nor eluded, render this mode of reasoning as 
indiscreet as it is superfluous. The kingdom of Yemen has been 
successively subdued by the Abyssinians, the Persians, the sultans 
of Egypt, and the Turks, the holy cities of Mecca and Medina have 
repeatedly bowed under a foreign tyrant, and the Roman province 
of Arabia embraced the peculiar wilderness in which Ishmael and 
his sons must have pitched their tents in the face of their brethren. 
Yet these exceptions are temporary or local ; the body of the nation 



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194 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

has escaped the yoke of the most powerful monarchies — the arms 
of Sesostris and Cyrus, of Pompey and Trajan, could never achieve 
the conquest of Arabia. The present sovereign of the Turks may 
exercise a shadow of jurisdiction, but his pride is reduced to solicit 
the friendship of a people whom it is dangerous to provoke, and 
fruitless to attack. 

The obvious source and causes of their freedom are in- 
scribed on the character and country of the Arabs. Many ages 
before Mohammed their intrepid valor had been severely felt by 
their neighbors in offensive and defensive war. The patient and 
active virtues of a soldier are insensibly nursed in the habits and 
discipline of a pastoral life. The care of the sheep and camels 
is abandoned to the women of the tribe, but the martial youth, 
under the banner of the emir, is ever on horseback, and in the field, 
to practice the exercise of the bow, the javelin, and the scimiter. The 
long memory of their independence is the firmest pledge of its per- 
petuity, and succeeding generations are animated to prove their 
descent and to maintain their inheritance. Their domestic feuds 
are suspended on the approach of a common enemy, and in their 
last hostilities against the Turks the caravan of Mecca was attacked 
and pillaged by fourscore thousand of the confederates. When 
they advance to battle the hope of victory is in the front; in the 
rear, the assurance of a retreat. Their horses and camels, which 
in eight or ten days can perform a march of four or five hundred 
miles, disappear before the conqueror; the secret waters of the 
desert elude his search, and his victorious troops are consumed with 
thirst, hunger, and fatigue in the pursuit of an invisible foe, who 
scorns his efforts and safely reposes in the heart of the burning 
solitude. The arms and deserts of the Beduins are not only the 
safeguards of their own freedom, but the barriers also of the 
happy Arabia, whose inhabitants, remote from war, are enervated 
by the luxury of the soil and climate. The legions of Augustus 
melted away in disease and lassitude; and it is only by a naval 
power that the reduction of Yemen has been successfully attempted. 
When Mohammed erected his holy standard that kingdom was a 
province of the Persian Empire; yet seven princes of the Himyarites 
still reigned in the mountains, and the vicegerent of Chosroes was 
tempted to forget his distant country and his unfortunate master. 
The historians of the age of Justinian represent the state of the 
independent Arabs, who were divided by interest or affection in 



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ARABIA 195 

the long quarrel of the East : the tribe of Ghassan was allowed to 
encamp on the Syrian territory ; the princes of Hira were permitted 
to form a city about forty miles to the southward of the ruins of 
Babylon. Their service in the field was speedy and vigorous, but 
their friendship was venal, their faith inconstant, their enmity 
capricious ; it was an easier task to excite than to disarm these rov- 
ing barbarians, and in the familiar intercourse of war they learned 
to see and to despise the splendid weakness both of Rome and of 
Persia. From Mecca to the Euphrates the Arabian tribes were 
confounded by the Greeks and Latins, under the general appellation 
of Saracens, a name which every Christian mouth has been taught 
to pronounce with terror and abhorrence. 

The slaves of domestic tyranny may vainly exult in their na- 
tional independence; but the Arab is personally free, and he enjoys, 
in some degree, the benefits of society without forfeiting the pre- 
rogatives of nature. In every tribe superstition, or gratitude, or 
fortune has exalted a particular family above the heads of their 
equals. The dignities of sheik and emir invariably descend in this 
chosen race; but the order of succession is loose and precarious, 
and the most worthy or aged of the noble kinsmen are preferred 
for the simple, though important, office of settling disputes by their 
advice and guiding valor by their example. Even a female of 
sense and spirit has been permitted to command the countrymen of 
Zenobia. The momentary junction of several tribes produces an 
army; their more lasting union constitutes a nation; and the su- 
preme chief, the emir of emirs, whose banner is displayed at their 
head, may deserve, in the eyes of strangers, the honors of the 
kingly name. If the Arabian princes abuse their power, they are 
quickly punished by the desertion of their subjects, who have been 
accustomed to a mild and parental jurisdiction. Their spirit is 
free, their steps are unconfined, the desert is open, and the tribes 
and families are held together by a mutual and voluntary compact. 
The softer natives of Yemen supported the pomp and majesty of a 
monarch, but if he could not leave his palace without endangering 
his life, the active powers of government must have been devolved 
on his nobles and magistrates. The cities of Mecca and Medina 
present, in the heart of Asia, the form, or rather the substance, of 
a commonwealth. The grandfather of Mohammed and his lineal 
ancestors appear in foreign and domestic transactions as the princes 
of their country ; but they reigned, like Pericles at Athens, or the 



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196 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

Medici at Florence, by the opinion of their wisdom and integrity. 
Their influence was divided with their patrimony, and the scepter 
was transferred from the uncles of the Prophet to the younger 
branch of the tribe of Koreish. On solemn occasions they convened 
the assembly of the people, and, since mankind must be either com- 
pelled or persuaded to obey, the use and reputation of oratory 
among the ancient Arabs is the clearest evidence of public freedom. 
But their simple freedom was of a very different cast from the 
nice and artificial machinery of the Greek and Roman republics, 
in which each member possessed an undivided share of the civil 
and political rights of the community. In the more simple state of 
the Arabs the nation is free because each of her sons disdains a 
base submission to the will of a master. His breast is fortified by 
the austere virtues of courage, patience, and sobriety, the love of 
independence prompts him to exercise the habits of self-command, 
and the fear of dishonor guards him from the meaner apprehension 
of pain, of danger, and of death. The gravity and firmness of the 
mind is conspicuous in his outward demeanor. His speech is slow, 
weighty, and concise, he is seldom provoked to laughter, his only 
gesture is that of stroking his beard, the venerable symbol of man- 
hood, and the sense of his own importance teaches him to accost 
his equals without levity, and his superiors without awe. The lib- 
erty of the Saracens survived their conquests. The first caliphs 
indulged the bold and familiar language of their subjects, and 
ascended the pulpit to persuade and edify the congregation; nor 
was it before the seat of empire was removed to the Tigris that 
the Abbasids adopted the proud and pompous ceremonial of the 
Persian and Byzantine court. 

In the study of nations and men we may observe the causes 
that render them hostile or friendly to each other, that tend to 
narrow or enlarge, to mollify or exasperate, the social character. 
The separation of the Arabs from the rest of mankind has accus- 
tomed them to confound the ideas of stranger and enemy ; and the 
poverty of the land has introduced a maxim of jurisprudence, 
which they believe and practice to the present hour. They pretend 
that in the division of the earth the rich and fertile climates were 
assigned to the other branches of the human family, and that the 
posterity of the outlaw Ishmael might recover, by fraud or force, 
the portion of inheritance of which he had been unjustly deprived. 
According to the remark of Pliny, the Arabian tribes are equally 



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ARABIA 197 

addicted to theft and merchandise; the caravans that traverse the 
desert are ransomed or pillaged, and their neighbors, since the re- 
mote times of Job and Sesostris, have been the victims of their 
rapacious spirit. If a Beduin discovers from afar a solitary trav- 
eler, he rides furiously against him, crying, with a loud voice, 
" Undress thyself, thy aunt [my wife] is without a garment." A 
ready submission entitles him to mercy; resistance will provoke 
the aggressor, and his own blood must expiate the blood which he 
presumes to shed in legitimate defense. A single robber, or a few 
associates, are branded with their genuine name, but the exploits 
of a numerous band assume the character of lawful and honorable 
war. The temper of a people thus armed against mankind was 
doubly inflamed by the domestic license of rapine, murder, and 
revenge. 

In the constitution of Europe the right of peace and war 
is now* confined to a small, and the actual exercise to a much 
smaller, list of respectable potentates ; but each Arab, with impunity 
and renown, might point his javelin against the life of his country- 
man. The union of the nation consisted only in a vague resem- 
blance of language and manners, and in each community the juris- 
diction of the magistrate was mute and impotent. Of the time of 
ignorance which preceded Mohammed, seventeen hundred battles 
are recorded by tradition. Hostility was imbittered with the rancor 
of civil faction, and the recital, in prose or verse, of an obsolete 
feud was sufficient to rekindle the same passions among the de- 
scendants of the hostile tribes. In private life every man, at least 
every family, was the judge and avenger of his own cause. The 
nice sensibility of honor which weighs the insult rather than the 
injury, sheds its deadly venom on the quarrels of the Arabs — 
the honor of their women, and of their beards, is most easily 
wounded. An indecent action, a contemptuous word, can be ex- 
piated only by the blood of the offender, and such is their patient 
inveteracy that they await whole months and years the opportunity 
of revenge. A fine or compensation for murder is familiar to the 
barbarians of every age ; but in Arabia the kinsmen of the dead are 
at liberty to accept the atonement or to exercise with their own 
hands the law of retaliation. The refined malice of the Arabs re- 
fuses even the head of the murderer, substitutes an innocent for 
the guilty person, and transfers the penalty to the best and most 
considerable of the race by whom they have been injured. If he 



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198 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

falls by their hands they are exposed, in their turn, to the danger 
or reprisals, the interest and principal of the bloody debt are ac- 
cumulated, the individuals of either family leading a life of malice 
and suspicion, and fifty years may sometimes elapse before the 
account of vengeance be finally settled. This sanguinary spirit, 
ignorant of pity or forgiveness, has been moderated, however, by 
the maxims of honor which require in every private encounter some 
decent equality of age and strength, of numbers and weapons. An 
annual festival of two, perhaps of four, months was observed by 
the Arabs before the time of Mohammed, during which their 
swords were religiously sheathed both in foreign and domestic 
hostility, and this partial truce is more strongly expressive of the 
habits of anarchy and warfare. 

But the spirit of rapine and revenge was tempered by the 
milder influence of trade and literature. The solitary peninsula is 
encompassed by the most civilized nations of the ancient world, 
the merchant is the friend of mankind, and the annual caravans 
imported the first seeds of knowledge and politeness into the cities, 
and even the camps of the desert. Whatever may be the pedigree 
of the Arabs, their language is derived from the same original 
stock with the Hebrew, the Syriac, and the Chaldean tongues. The 
independence of the tribes was marked by their peculiar dialects, 
but each, after their own, allowed a just preference to the pure and 
perspicuous idiom of Mecca. In Arabia, as well as in Greece, the 
perfection of language outstripped the refinement of manners, and 
her speech could diversify the fourscore names of honey, the two 
hundred of a serpent, the five hundred of a lion, the thousand of a 
sword, at a time when this copious dictionary was intrusted to the 
memory of an illiterate people. The monuments of the Himyarites 
were inscribed with an obsolete and mysterious character; but the 
Cufic letters, the groundwork of the present alphabet, were in- 
vented on the banks of the Euphrates, and the recent invention was 
taught at Mecca by a stranger who settled in that city after the 
birth of Mohammed. 

The scholarly arts of grammar, of meter, and of rhetoric 
were unknown to the freeborn eloquence of the Arabians, but 
their penetration was sharp, their fancy luxuriant, their wit strong 
and sententious, and their more elaborate compositions were ad- 
dressed with energy and effect to the minds of their hearers. 
The genius and merit of a rising poet was celebrated by the ap- 



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ARABIA 199 

plause of his own and the kindred tribes. A solemn banquet was 
prepared, and a chorus of women, striking their tymbals, and dis- 
playing the pomp of their nuptials, sung in the presence of their 
sons and husbands the felicity of their native tribe; that a cham- 
pion had now appeared to vindicate their rights ; that a herald had 
raised his voice to immortalize their renown. The distant or hos- 
tile tribes resorted to an annual fair, which was abolished by the 
fanaticism of the first Moslems — a national assembly that must 
have contributed to refine and harmonize the barbarians. Thirty 
days were employed in the exchange, not only of corn and wine, but 
of eloquence and poetry. The prize was disputed by the generous 
emulation of the bards, the victorious performance was deposited 
in the archives of princes and emirs, and we may read in our own 
language the seven original poems which were inscribed in letters 
of gold and suspended in the temple of Mecca. The Arabian poets 
were the historians and moralists of the age, and if they sympathized 
with the prejudices, they inspired and crowned the virtues, of their 
countrymen. The indissoluble union of generosity and valor was 
the darling theme of their song, and when they pointed their keen- 
est satire against a despicable race, they affirmed, in the bitterness 
of reproach, that the men knew not how to give, nor the women to 
deny. 

The same hospitality which was practiced by Abraham and 
celebrated by Homer is still renewed in the camps of the Arabs. 
The ferocious Beduins, the terror of the desert, embrace, without 
inquiry or hesitation, the stranger who dares to confide in their 
honor and to enter their tent. His treatment is kind and respectful. 
He shares the wealth, or the poverty, of his host, and, after a need- 
ful repose, he is dismissed on his way, with thanks, with blessings, 
and perhaps with gifts. The heart and hand are more largely ex- 
panded by the wants of a brother or a friend; but the heroic acts 
that could deserve the public applause must have surpassed the 
narrow measure of discretion and experience. A dispute had 
arisen, who among the citizens of Mecca was entitled to the prize 
of generosity; and a successive application was made to the three 
who were deemed most worthy of the trial. Abdallah, the son of 
Abbas, had undertaken a distant journey, and his foot was in the 
stirrup when he heard the voice of a suppliant, " O son of the uncle 
of the Apostle of God, I am a traveler, and in distress ! " He in- 
stantly dismounted to present the pilgrim with his camel, her rich 



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200 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

caparison, ana a purse of four thousand pieces of gold, excepting 
only the sword, either for its intrinsic value or as the gift of an 
honored kinsman. The servant of Kais informed the second sup- 
pliant that his master was asleep ; but he immediately added, " Here 
is a purse of seven thousand pieces of gold (it is all we have in the 
house), and here is an order that will entitle you to a camel and 
a slave." The master, as soon as he awoke, praised and enfran- 
chized his faithful steward, and, with a gentle reproof, that by re- 
specting his slumbers he had stinted his bounty. The third of these 
heroes, the blind Arabah, at the hour of prayer was supporting his 
steps on the shoulders of two slaves. " Alas ! " he replied, " my 
coffers are empty ! but these you may sell ; if you refuse, I renounce 
them." At these words, pushing away the youths, he groped along 
the wall with his staff. The character of Hatem is the perfect model 
of Arabian virtue. He was brave and liberal, an eloquent poet, and 
a successful robber. Forty camels were roasted at his hospitable 
feasts, and at the prayer of a suppliant enemy he restored both 
the captives and the spoil. The freedom of his countrymen dis- 
dained the laws of justice — they proudly indulged the spontaneous 
impulse of pity and benevolence. 

The religion of the Arabs, as well as of the Indians, consisted 
in the worship of the sun, the moon, and the fixed stars — a primi- 
tive and specious mode of superstition. The bright luminaries of 
the sky display the visible image of a diety. Their number and 
distance convey to a philosophic, or even a vulgar, eye, the idea of 
boundless space ; the character of eternity is marked on these solid 
globes that seem incapable of corruption or decay; the regularity 
of the motions may be ascribed to a principle of reason or instinct; 
and their real or imaginary influence encourages the vain belief that 
the earth and its inhabitants are the object of their peculiar care. 
The science of astronomy was cultivated at Babylon, but the school 
of the Arabs was a clear firmament and a naked plain. In their 
nocturnal marches they steered by the guidance of the stars. Their 
names, and order, and daily station were familiar to the curiosity 
and devotion of the Beduin, and he was taught by experience to 
divide, in twenty-eight parts, the zodiac of the moon, and to bless 
the constellations that refreshed with salutary rains the thirst of 
the desert. The reign of the heavenly orbs could not be extended 
beyond the visible sphere, and some metaphysical powers were 
necessary to sustain the transmigration of souls and the resurrec- 



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ARABIA 201 

tion of bodies: a camel was left to perish on the grave, that he 
might serve his master in another life, and the invocation of de- 
parted spirits implies that they were still endowed with conscious- 
ness and power. I am ignorant, and am careless, of the blind 
mythology of the barbarians ; of the local deities, of the stars, the 
air and the earth, of their sex or titles, their attributes or sub- 
ordination. Each tribe, each family, each independent warrior, 
created and changed the rites and the object of his fantastic wor- 
ship ; but the nation, in every age, has bowed to the religion, as well 
as to the language, of Mecca. The genuine antiquity of the 
Kaaba ascends beyond the Christian era. In describing the coast 
of the Red Sea, the Greek historian Diodorus has remarked, be- 
tween the Thamudites and the Sabeans, a famous temple whose 
superior sanctity was revered by all the Arabians, the linen or 
silken veil, which, annually renewed by the Turkish emperor, was 
first offered by a pious king of the Himyarites, who reigned seven 
hundred years before the time of Mohammed. A tent or a cavern 
might suffice for the worship of the savages, but an edifice of stone 
and clay has been erected in its place, and the art and power of the 
monarchs of the East have been confined to the simplicity of the 
original model. A spacious portico encloses the quadrangle of 
the Kaaba, a square chapel, twenty-four cubits long, twenty-three 
broad, and twenty-seven high. A door and a window admit the 
light, and the double roof is supported by three pillars of wood, 
while a spout (now of gold) discharges the rain-water, and the 
well Zemzem is protected by a dome from accidental pollution. 
The tribe of Koreish, by fraud or force, had acquired the cus- 
tody of the Kaaba, the sacerdotal office devolved through four lineal 
descents to the grandfather of Mohammed, and the family of the 
Hashimites, whence he sprung, was the most respectable and 
sacred in the eyes of their country. The precincts of Mecca en- 
joyed the rights of sanctuary, and in the last month of each year 
the city and the temple were crowded with a long train of pilgrims, 
who presented their vows and offerings in the house of God. The 
same rites which are now accomplished by the faithful Mussul- 
man were invented and practiced by the superstition of the idola- 
ters. At a reverential distance they cast away their garments; 
seven times, with hasty steps, they encircled the Kaaba, and kissed 
the black stone; seven times they visited and adored the adjacent 
mountains; seven times they threw stones into the valley of Mina, 



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208 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

and the pilgrimage was achieved, as at the present hour, by a sacri- 
fice of sheep and camels and the burial of their hair and nails in 
the consecrated ground. Each tribe either found or introduced in 
the Kaaba their domestic worship. The temple was adorned, or 
defiled, with three hundred and sixty idols of men, eagles, lions, 
and antelopes, and most conspicuous was the statue of Hebal, of 
red agate, holding in his hand seven arrows, without heads or 
feathers, the instruments and symbols of profane divination. But 
this statue was a monument of Syrian arts. The devotion of the 
ruder ages was content with a pillar or a tablet, and the rocks of 
the desert were hewn into gods or altars, in imitation of the black 
stone of Mecca, which is deeply tainted with the reproach of an 
idolatrous origin. From Japan to Peru the use of sacrifice has uni- 
versally prevailed, and the votary has expressed his gratitude, or 
fear, by destroying or consuming, in honor of the gods, the dearest 
and most precious of their gifts. The life of a man is the most 
precious oblation to deprecate a public calamity. The altars of 
Phoenicia and Egypt, of Rome and Carthage, have been polluted 
with human gore, and the cruel practice was long preserved among 
the Arabs. In the third century a boy was annually sacrificed by 
the tribe of the Dumatians, and a royal captive was piously slaugh- 
tered by the prince of the Saracens, the ally and soldier of the Em- 
perior Justinian. A parent who drags his son to the altar exhibits 
the most painful and sublime effort of fanaticism; the deed, or 
the intention, was sanctified by the example of saints and heroes, 
and the father of Mohammed himself was devoted by a rash vow, 
and hardly ransomed for the equivalent of a hundred camels. In 
the time of ignorance the Arabs, like the Jews and Egyptians, ab- 
stained from the taste of swine's flesh, and they circumcised their 
children at the age of puberty ; the same customs, without the cen- 
sure or the precept of the Koran, have been silently transmitted to 
their posterity and proselytes. It has been sagaciously conjectured 
that the artful legislator indulged the stubborn prejudices of his 
countrymen. It is more simple to believe that he adhered to the 
habits and opinions of his youth, without foreseeing that a practice 
congenial to the climate of Mecca might become useless or incon- 
venient on the banks of the Danube or the Volga. 

Arabia was free — the adjacent kingdoms were shaken by the 
storms of conquest and tyranny, and the persecuted sects fled to the 
happy land where they might profess what they thought and prac- 



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ARABIA 208 

tice what they professed. The religions of the Sabians and 
Magians, of the Jews and Christians, were disseminated from the 
Persian Gulf to the Red Sea. In a remote period of antiquity 
Sabianism was diffused over Asia by the science of the Chaldeans 
and the arms of the Assyrians. From the observations of two 
thousand years the priests and astronomers of Babylon deduced 
the eternal laws of nature and providence. They adored the seven 
gods, or angels, who directed the course of the seven planets, and 
shed their irresistible influence on the earth. The attributes of the 
seven planets, with the twelve signs of the zodiac, and the twenty- 
four constellations of the northern and southern hemisphere, were 
represented by images and talismans; the seven days of the week 
were dedicated to their respective deities ; the Sabians prayed thrice 
each day; and the temple of the moon at Haran was the term of 
their pilgrimage. But the flexible genius of their faith was always 
ready either to teach or to learn. In the tradition of the Creation, 
the deluge, and the patriarchs they held a singular agreement with 
their Jewish captives. They appealed to the secret books of Adam, 
Seth, and Enoch, and a slight infusion of the Gospel has trans- 
formed the last remnant of the polytheists into the Christians of 
St. John, in the territory of Bassora. The altars of Babylon were 
overturned by the Magians, but the injuries of the Sabians were 
revenged by the sword of Alexander. Persia groaned above five 
hundred years under a foreign yoke, and the purest disciples of 
Zoroaster escaped from the contagion of idolatry and breathed 
with their adversaries the freedom of the desert. Seven hundred 
years before the death of Mohammed the Jews were settled in 
Arabia, and a far greater multitude was expelled from the Holy 
Land in the wars of Titus and Hadrian in 79 a. d. The indus- 
trious exiles aspiring to liberty and power, they erected synagogues 
in the cities and castles in the wilderness, and their Gentile converts 
were confounded with the children of Israel, whom they resembled 
in the outward mark of circumcision. The Christian missionaries 
were still more active and successful. The Catholics asserted their 
universal reign, and the sects whom they oppressed successively 
retired beyond the limits of the Roman Empire. The Marcionites 
and Manichaeans dispersed their fantastic opinions and apocryphal 
gospels, and the churches of Yemen and the princes of Hira and 
Ghassan were instructed in a purer creed by the Jacobite and Nes- 
torian bishops. 



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204 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

The liberty of choice was presented to all the tribes — each 
Arab being free to elect or to compose his private religion — and 
the rude superstition of his house was mingled with the sublime 
theology of saints and philosophers. A fundamental article of 
faith was inculcated by the consent of the learned strangers — the 
existence of one supreme God, who is exalted above the powers of 
heaven and earth, but who has often revealed himself to mankind 
by the ministry of his angels and prophets, and whose grace or jus- 
tice has interrupted, by seasonable miracles, the order of nature. 
The most rational of the Arabs acknowledged his power, though 
they neglected his worship ; and it was habit rather than conviction 
that still attached them to the relics of idolatry. The Jews and 
Christians were the people of the Book ; and the Bible was already 
translated into the Arabic language, and the volume of the Old 
Testament was accepted by the concord of these implacable 
enemies. In the story of the Hebrew patriarchs the Arabs were 
pleased to discover the fathers of their nation. They applauded 
the birth and promises of Ishmael, revered the faith and virtue of 
Abraham, traced his pedigree and their own to the creation of the 
first man, and imbibed with equal credulity the prodigies of the 
holy text and the dreams and traditions of the Jewish rabbis. 



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Chapter III 

MOHAMMED, THE PROPHET OF ISLAM 

THE base and plebeian origin of Mohammed is a calumny 
of the Christians, who exalt instead of degrading the 
merit of their adversary. His descent from Ishmael was 
a national fable; but if the first steps of the pedigree are dark 
and doubtful, he could produce many generations of pure and 
genuine nobility. He sprang from the tribe of Koreish and the 
family of Hashim, the most illustrious of the Arabs, the princes 
of Mecca, and the hereditary guardians of the Kaaba. The grand- 
father of Mohammed was Abd al Muttalib, the son of Hashim, 
a wealthy and generous citizen, who relieved the distress of famine 
with the supplies of commerce. Mecca, which had been fed by the 
liberality of the father, was saved by the courage of the son. The 
kingdom of Yemen was subject to the Christian princes of Abys- 
sinia. Their vassal Abrahah was provoked by an insult to avenge 
the honor of the cross, and the holy city was invested by a train of 
elephants and an army of Africans. A treaty was proposed, and in 
the first audience the grandfather of Mohammed demanded the 
restitution of his cattle. " And why," said Abrahah, " do you not 
rather implore my clemency in favor of your temple, which I have 
threatened to destroy?" "Because," replied the intrepid chief, 
" the cattle are my own ; Kaaba belongs to the gods, and they will 
defend their house from injury and sacrilege." The want of provi- 
sions or the valor of the Koreish compelled the Abyssinians to a 
disgraceful retreat in 570 a. d. Their discomfiture has been 
adorned with a miraculous flight of birds, who showered down 
stones on the heads of the infidels, and the deliverance was long 
commemorated by the era of the elephant. The glory of Abd al 
Muttalib was crowned with domestic happiness, his life was pro- 
longed to the age of one hundred and ten years, and he became the 
father of six daughters and thirteen sons. His best beloved Ab- 
dallah was the most beautiful and modest of the Arabian youth, 
and in the first night, when he consummated his marriage with 

205 



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206 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

Amina, of the noble race of the Zahrites, two hundred virgins are 
said to have expired of jealousy and despair. Mahomet, or more 
properly Mohammed, the only son of Abdallah and Amina, was 
born at Mecca four years after the death of Justinian, and two 
months (t. e., in August, 570 a. d.) after the defeat of the Abys- 
sinians, whose victory would have introduced into the Kaaba the 
religion of the Christians. In his early infancy he was deprived 
of his father, his mother, and his grandfather; his uncles were 
strong and numerous; and in the division of the inheritance the 
orphan's share was reduced to five camels and an Ethiopian maid- 
servant. At home and abroad, in peace and war, Abu Talib, the 
most respectable of his uncles, was the guide and guardian of his 
youth. In his twenty-fifth year he entered into the service of 
Kadijah, a rich and noble widow of Mecca, who soon rewarded his 
fidelity with the gift of her hand and fortune. The marriage con- 
tract, in the simple style of antiquity, recites the mutual love of 
Mohammed and Kadijah, describes him as the most accomplished 
of the tribe of Koreish, and stipulates a dowry of twelve ounces of 
gold and twenty camels, which was supplied by the liberality of his 
uncle. By this alliance the son of Abdallah was restored to the 
station of his ancestors, and the judicious matron was content with 
his domestic virtues, till, in the fortieth year of his age, he as- 
sumed the title of a prophet and proclaimed the religion of the 
Koran. 

According to the tradition of his companions, Mohammed was 
distinguished by the beauty of his person, an outward gift which is 
seldom despised, except by those to whom it has been refused. Be- 
fore he spoke, the orator engaged on his side the affections of 
a public or private audience. They applauded his commanding 
presence, his majestic aspect, his piercing eye, his gracious smile, 
his flowing beard, his countenance that painted every sensation of 
the soul, and his gestures that enforced each expression of the 
tongue. In the familiar offices of life he scrupulously adhered to the 
grave and ceremonious politeness of his country. His respectful 
attention to the rich and powerful was dignified by his condescen- 
sion and affability to the poorest citizens of Mecca, the frankness 
of his manner concealed the artifice of his views, and the habits of 
courtesy were imputed to personal friendship or universal benevo- 
lence. His memory was capacious and retentive; his wit easy and 
social; his imagination sublime; his judgment clear, rapid, and de- 



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ARABIA 807 

cisive. He possessed the courage both of thought and action, and, 
although his designs might gradually expand with his success, the 
first idea which he entertained of his divine mission bears the stamp 
of an original and superior genius. The son of Abdallah was edu- 
cated in the bosom of the noblest race, in the use of the purest dia- 
lect of Arabia, and the fluency of his speech was corrected and 
enhanced by the practice of discreet and seasonable silence. With 
these powers of eloquence Mohammed was an illiterate barbarian. 
His youth had never been instructed in the arts of reading and 
writing, the common ignorance exempted him from shame or re- 
proach, but he was reduced to a narrow circle of existence and de- 
prived of those faithful mirrors which reflect to our mind the minds 
of sages and heroes. Yet the book of nature and of man was open 
to his view ; and some fancy has been indulged in the political and 
philosophical observations which are ascribed to the Arabian trav- 
eler. He compares the nations and the religions of the earth ; dis- 
covers the weakness of the Persian and Roman monarchies; 
beholds, with pity and indignation, the degeneracy of the times; 
and resolves to unite under one God and one king the invincible 
spirit and primitive virtues of the Arabs. Our more accurate in- 
quiry will suggest that instead of visiting the courts, the camps, the 
temples of the East, the two journeys of Mohammed into Syria 
were confined to the fairs of Bosra and Damascus; that he was 
only thirteen years of age when he accompanied the caravan of his 
uncle ; and that his duty compelled him to return as soon as he had 
disposed of the merchandise of Kadijah. In these hasty and super- 
ficial excursions the eye of genius might discern some objects in- 
visible to his grosser companions ; some seeds of knowledge might 
be cast upon a fruitful soil; but his ignorance of the Syriac lan- 
guage must have checked his curiosity, and I cannot perceive in the 
life or writings of Mohammed that his prospect was far extended 
beyond the limits of the Arabian world. From every region of that 
solitary world the pilgrims of Mecca were annually assembled by 
the calls of devotion and commerce ; in the free concourse of multi- 
tudes, a simple citizen in his native tongue might study the po- 
litical state and character of the tribes, the theory and practice 
of the Jews and Christians. Some useful strangers may be tempted, 
or forced, to implore the rights of hospitality, and the ene- 
mies of Mohammed have named the Jew, the Persian, and the 
Syrian monk, whom they accuse of lending their secret aid to the 



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208 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

composition of the Koran. Conversation enriches the understand- 
ing, but solitude is the school of genius; and the uniformity of a 
work denotes the hand of a single artist. From his earliest youth 
Mohammed was addicted to religious contemplation. Each year, 
during the month of Ramadan, he withdrew from the world, and 
from the arms of Kadijah ; in the cave of Hera, three miles from 
Mecca, he consulted the spirit of fraud or enthusiasm, whose abode 
is not in the heavens, but in the mind of the Prophet. The faith 
which, under the name of Islam, he preached to his family and 
nation is compounded of an eternal truth, and a necessary fiction, 
" That there is only one God, and that Mohammed is the Apostle 
of God/' 

It is the boast of the Jewish apologists that while the learned 
nations of antiquity were deluded by the fables of polytheism, their 
simple ancestors of Palestine preserved the knowledge and worship 
of the true God. The moral attributes of Jehovah may not easily 
be reconciled with the standard of human virtue — his metaphysical 
qualities are darkly expressed; but each page of the Pentateuch 
and the Prophets is an evidence of his power. The unity of his 
name is inscribed on the first table of the law, and his sanctuary 
was never defiled by any visible image of the invisible essence. 
After the ruin of the temple the faith of the Hebrew exiles was 
purified, fixed, and enlightened by the spiritual devotion of the 
synagogue; and the authority of Mohammed will not justify his 
perpetual reproach that the Jews of Mecca or Medina adored Ezra 
as the son of God. But the children of Israel had ceased to be a 
people, and the religions of the world were guilty, at least in the 
eyes of the Prophet, of giving sons, or daughters, or companions 
to the supreme God. In the rude idolatry of the Arabs the crime 
is manifest and audacious: the Sabians are poorly excused by the 
preeminence of the first planet, or intelligence, in their celestial 
hierarchy, and in the Magian system the conflict of the two princi- 
ples betrays the imperfection of the conqueror. The Christians of 
the seventh century had insensibly relapsed into a semblance of 
paganism. Their public and private vows were addressed to the 
relics and images that disgraced the temples of the East, the throne 
of the Almighty was darkened by a cloud of martyrs, and saints, 
and angels, the objects of popular veneration, and the Collyridian 
heretics, who flourished in the fruitful soil of Arabia, invested the 
Virgin Mary with the name and honors of a goddess. The mys- 



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ARABIA 209 

teries of the Trinity and Incarnation appear to contradict the prin- 
ciple of the divine unity. In their obvious sense they introduce 
three equal deities, and transform the man Jesus into the substance 
of the Son of God. An orthodox commentary will satisfy only a 
believing mind. Intemperate curiosity and zeal had torn the veil 
of the sanctuary, and each of the Oriental sects was eager to con- 
fess that all, except themselves, deserved the reproach of idolatry 
and polytheism. The creed of Mohammed is free from suspicion 
or ambiguity, and the Koran is a glorious testimony to the unity 
of God. The Prophet of Mecca rejected the worship of idols and 
men, of stars and planets, on the rational principle that whatever 
rises must set, that whatever is born must die, that whatever is 
corruptible must decay and perish. In the Author of the universe 
his rational enthusiasm confessed and adored an infinite and eternal 
Being, without form or place, without issue or similitude, present to 
our most secret thoughts, existing by the necessity of His own 
nature, and deriving from Himself all moral and intellectual per- 
fection. These sublime truths, thus announced in the language of 
the Prophet, are firmly held by his disciples, and defined with meta- 
physical precision by the interpreters of the Koran. A philosophic 
theist might subscribe the popular creed of the Mohammedans, a 
creed too sublime, perhaps, for our present faculties. What object 
remains for the fancy, or even the understanding, when we have 
abstracted from the unknown substance all ideas of time and space, 
of motion and matter, of sensation and reflection? The first prin- 
ciple of reason and revelation was confirmed by the voice of Mo- 
hammed. His proselytes, from India to Morocco, are distin- 
guished by the name of Unitarians, and the danger of idolatry has 
been prevented by the interdiction of images. The doctrine of 
eternal decrees and absolute predestination is strictly embraced by 
the Mohammedans ; and they struggle with the common difficulties, 
how to reconcile the prescience of God with the freedom and re- 
sponsibility of man; how to explain the permission of evil under 
the reign of infinite power and infinite goodness. 

The God of nature has written His existence on all His works, 
and His law in the heart of man. To restore the knowledge of the 
one and the practice of the other has been the real or pretended 
aim of the prophets of every age. The liberality of Mohammed 
allowed to his predecessors the same credit which he claimed for 
himself, and the chain of inspiration was prolonged from the fall 



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210 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

of Adam to the promulgation of the Koran. During that period 
some rays of prophetic light had been imparted to 124,000 of the 
elect, discriminated by their respective measure of virtue and grace; 
313 apostles were sent with a special commission to recall their 
country from idolatry and vice; 104 volumes have been dictated 
by the Holy Spirit, and 6 legislators of transcendant brightness 
have announced to mankind the six successive revelations of vari- 
ous rites, but of one immutable religion. The authority and station 
of Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Christ, and Mohammed rise 
in just gradation above each other ; but whosoever hates or rejects 
any one of the prophets is numbered with the infidels. The writ- 
ings of the patriarchs were extant only in the apocryphal copies of 
the Greeks and Syrians. The conduct of Adam had not entitled 
him to the gratitude or respect of his children ; the seven precepts 
of Noah were observed by an inferior and imperfect class of the 
proselytes of the synagogue; and the memory of Abraham was 
obscurely revered by the Sabeans in his native land of Chaldea. Of 
the myriads of prophets, Moses and Christ alone lived and reigned ; 
and the remnant of the inspired writings were comprised in the books 
of the Old and the New Testament. The miraculous story of Moses 
is consecrated and embellished in the Koran, and the captive Jews 
enjoy the secret revenge of imposing their own belief on the nations 
whose recent creeds they deride. For the Author of Christianity 
the Mohammedans are taught by the Prophet to entertain a high 
and mysterious reverence. 

" Verily, Christ Jesus, the son of Mary, is the apostle of God, 
and his word which he conveyed unto Mary, and a spirit proceeding 
from him; honorable in this world and in the world to come; and 
one of those who approach near to the presence of God." Yet 
Jesus was a mere mortal, and at the day of judgment his testimony 
will serve to condemn both the Jews, who reject him as a prophet, 
and the Christians, who adore him as the Son of God. The malice 
of his enemies aspersed his reputation and conspired against his life, 
but their intention only was guilty; a phantom or criminal was 
substituted on the cross, and the innocent saint was translated to 
the seventh heaven. During six hundred years the gospel was the 
way of truth and salvation; but the Christians insensibly forgot 
both the laws and the example of their founder, and Mohammed 
was instructed by the Gnostics to accuse the church as well as the 
synagogue, of corrupting the integrity of the sacred text. The 



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ARABIA 211 

piety of Moses and of Christ rejoiced in the assurance of a future 
prophet, more illustrious than themselves; the evangelic promise 
of the Paraclete, or Holy Ghost, was prefigured in the name, and 
accomplished in the person, of Mohammed, the greatest and last of 
the apostles of God. 

The communication of ideas requires a similitude of thought 
and language. The discourse of a philosopher would vibrate with- 
out effect on the ear of a peasant, yet how minute is the distance 
of their understandings if it be compared with the contact of an 
infinite and a finite mind, with the word of God expressed by the 
tongue or the pen of a mortal! The inspiration of the Hebrew 
prophets, of the apostles and evangelists of Christ, might not be 
incompatible with the exercise of their reason and memory; and 
the diversity of their genius is strongly marked in the style and 
composition of the books of the Old and New Testament. But 
Mohammed was content with a character more humble, yet more 
sublime — that of a simple editor. The substance of the Koran, ac- 
cording to himself or his disciples, is uncreated and eternal ; sub- 
sisting in the essence of the Deity, and inscribed with a pen 
of light on the table of his everlasting decrees. A paper copy, in a 
volume of silk and gems, was brought down to the lowest heaven 
by the Angel Gabriel, who, under the Jewish economy, had indeed 
been dispatched on the most important errands; and this trusty 
messenger successively revealed the chapters and verses to the 
Arabian prophet. Instead of a perpetual and perfect measure of 
the divine will, the fragments of the Koran were produced at the 
discretion of Mohammed; each revelation is suited to the emer- 
gencies of his policy or passion; and all contradiction is removed 
by the saving maxim that any text of Scripture is abrogated or 
modified by any subsequent passage. The word of God, and of the 
Apostle, was diligently recorded by his disciples on palm leaves and 
the shoulder bones of mutton ; and the pages, without order or con- 
nection, were cast into a domestic chest, in the custody of one of 
his wives. Two years after the death of Mohammed the sacred 
volume was collected and published by his friend and successor, 
Abu Bekr. The work was revised by the caliph Othman, in the 
thirtieth year of the Hegira, and the various editions of the Koran 
assert the same miraculous privilege of a uniform and incorrupt- 
ible text. In the spirt of enthusiasm or vanity the Prophet rests the 
truth of his mission on the merit of his book ; audaciously challenges 



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218 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

both men and angels to imitate the beauties of a single page, and 
presumes to assert that God alone could dictate this incomparable 
performance. This argument is most powerfully addressed to a 
devout Arabian, whose mind is attuned to faith and rapture, whose 
ear is delighted by the music of sounds, and whose ignorance is 
incapable of comparing the productions of human genius. The 
harmony and copiousness of style will not reach, in a version, the 
European infidel; he will peruse with impatience the endless inco- 
herent rhapsody of fable, and precept, and declamation, which sel- 
dom excites a sentiment or an idea, which sometimes crawls in the 
dust, and is sometimes lost in the clouds. The divine attributes 
exalt the fancy of the Arabian missionary, but his loftiest strains 
must yield to the sublime simplicity of the Book of Job, composed 
in a remote age, in the same country, and in the same language. 
If the composition of the Koran exceed the faculties of a man, to 
what superior intelligence should we ascribe the Iliad of Homer, 
or the Philippics of Demosthenes? In all religions the life of the 
founder supplies the silence of his written revelation. The sayings 
of Mohammed were so many lessons of truth, his actions so many 
examples of virtue, and the public and private memorials were pre- 
served by his wives and companions. At the end of two hundred 
years the Sunna, or oral law, was fixed and consecrated by the 
labors of Al Bochari, who discriminated 7275 genuine traditions 
from a mass of 300,000 reports, of a more doubtful or spurious 
character. Each day the pious author prayed in the temple of 
Mecca, and performed his ablutions with the water of Zemzem. 
The pages were successively deposited on the pulpit and the sep- 
ulcher of the Apostle, and the work has been approved by the 
four orthodox sects of the Sunnites. 

The mission of the ancient prophets, of Moses and of Jesus, 
had been confirmed by many splendid prodigies; and Mohammed 
was repeatedly urged, by the inhabitants of Mecca and Medina, to 
produce a similar evidence of his divine legation ; to call down from 
heaven the angel or the volume of his revelation, to create a garden 
in the desert, or to kindle a conflagration in the unbelieving city. 
As often as he is pressed by the demands of the Koreish he involves 
himself in the obscure boast of vision and prophecy, appeals to 
the internal proofs of his doctrine, and shields himself behind the 
providence of God, who refuses those signs and wonders that 
would depreciate the merit of faith and aggravate the guilt of infi- 



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ARABIA 213 

delity. But the modest or angry tone of his apologies betrays his 
weakness and vexation, and these passages of scandal established, 
beyond suspicion, the integrity of the Koran. The votaries of 
Mohammed are more assured than himself of his miraculous gifts, 
and their confidence and credulity increase as they are farther 
removed from the time and place of his spiritual exploits. They 
believe or affirm that trees went forth to meet him; that he was 
saluted by stones ; that water gushed from his fingers ; that he fed 
the hungry, cured the sick, and raised the dead; that a beam 
groaned to him; that a camel complained to him; that a shoulder 
of mutton informed him of its being poisoned; and that both ani- 
mate and inanimate nature were equally subject to the Apostle of 
God. His dream of a nocturnal journey is seriously described as 
a real and corporeal transaction. A mysterious animal, the Borak, 
conveyed him from the temple of Mecca to that of Jerusalem. 
With his companion, Gabriel, he successively ascended the seven 
heavens, and received and repaid the salutations of the patriarchs, 
the prophets, and the angels, in their respective mansions. Beyond 
the seventh heaven Mohammed alone was permitted to proceed; 
he passed the veil of unity, approached within two bow-shots of 
the throne, and felt a cold that pierced him to the heart, when his 
shoulder was touched by the hand of God. After this familiar, 
though important, conversation, he again descended to Jerusalem, 
remounted the Borak, returned to Mecca, and performed in the 
tenth part of a night the journey of many thousand years. Ac- 
cording to another legend the Apostle confounded in a national 
assembly the malicious challenge of the Koreish. His resistless 
word split asunder the orb of the moon. The obedient planet 
stooped from her station in the sky, accomplished the seven revolu- 
tions round the Kaaba, saluted Mohammed in the Arabian tongue, 
and, suddenly contracting her dimensions, entered at the collar, 
and issued forth through the sleeve, of his shirt. The vulgar are 
amused with these marvelous tales, but the gravest of the Mussul- 
man doctors imitate the modesty of their master, and indulge a 
latitude of faith or interpretation. They might speciously allege 
that in preaching the religion it was needless to violate the har- 
mony of nature; that a creed unclouded with mystery may be ex- 
cused from miracles; and that the sword of Mohammed was not 
less potent than the rod of Moses. 

The polytheist is oppressed and distracted by the variety of 



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214 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

superstition. A thousand rites of Egyptian origin were interwoven 
with the essence of the Mosaic law, and the spirit of the Gospel had 
evaporated in the pageantry of the church. The Prophet of Mecca 
was tempted by prejudice, or policy, or patriotism to sanctify the 
rites of the Arabians and the custom of visiting the holy stone of 
the Kaaba. But the precepts of Mohammed himself inculcate a 
more simple and rational piety. Prayer, fasting, and alms are the 
religious duties of a Mussulman, and he is encouraged to hope that 
prayer will carry him halfway to God, fasting will bring him to 
the door of his palace, and the alms will gain him admittance. 

According to the tradition of the nocturnal journey the Apostle, 
in his personal conference with the Deity, was commanded to im- 
pose on his disciples the daily obligation of fifty prayers. By the 
advice of Moses he applied for an alleviation of this intolerable 
burden, and the number was gradually reduced to five, without any 
dispensation of business or pleasure, or time or place. The de- 
votion of the faithful is repeated at daybreak, at noon, in the after- 
noon, in the evening, and at the first watch of the night, and in 
the present decay of religious fervor travelers are edified by the 
profound humility and attention of the Turks and Persians. 
Cleanliness is the key of prayer. The frequent lustration of the 
hands, the face, and the body, which was practiced of old by the 
Arabs, is solemnly enjoined by the Koran, and a permission is 
formally granted to supply with sand the scarcity of water. The 
words and attitudes of supplication, as it is performed either sit- 
ting or standing, or prostrate on the ground, are prescribed by cus- 
tom or authority ; but the prayer is poured forth in short and fer- 
vent ejaculations, the measure of zeal not exhausted by a tedious 
liturgy, and each Mussulman for his own person is invested with 
the character of a priest. Among the theists, who reject the use of 
images, it has been found necessary to restrain the wanderings of 
the fancy by directing the eye and the thought toward a kebla, 
or visible point of the horizon. The Prophet was at first inclined 
to gratify the Jews by the choice of Jerusalem, but he soon returned 
to a more natural partiality, and five times every day the eyes of 
the nations at Astrakhan, at Fez, at Delhi, are devoutly turned to 
the holy temple of Mecca. Yet every spot for the service of God 
is equally pure ; the Mohammedans indifferently pray in their cham- 
ber or in the street. As a distinction from the Jews and Christians, 
the Friday in each week is set apart for the useful institution of 



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ARABIA 215 

public worship. The people are assembled in the mosque, and the 
imam, some respectable elder, ascends the pulpit, to begin the 
prayer and pronounce the sermon. But the Mohammedan religion 
is destitute of priesthood or sacrifice, and the independent spirit of 
fanaticism looks down with contempt on the ministers and the 
slaves of superstition. The voluntary penance of the ascetics, the 
torment and glory of their lives, was odious to the Prophet, who 
censured in his companions a rash vow of abstaining from flesh, 
and women, and sleep, and firmly declared that he would suffer no 
monks in his religion. Yet he instituted, in each year, a fast of 
thirty days; and strenuously recommended the observance as a 
discipline which purifies the soul and subdues the body as a salu- 
tary exercise of obedience to the will of God and his Apostle. 
During the month of Ramadan, from the rising to the setting of 
the sim, the Mussulman abstains from eating and drinking, and 
women, and baths, and perfumes; from all nourishment that can 
restore his strength, from all pleasure that can gratify his senses. 
In the revolution of the lunar year the Ramadan coincides, by 
turns, with the winter cold and the summer heat; and the patient 
martyr, without assuaging his thirst with a drop of water, must 
expect the close of a tedious and sultry day. The interdiction of 
wine, peculiar to some orders of priests or hermits, is converted by 
Mohammed alone into a positive and general law ; and a consider- 
able portion of the globe has abjured, at his command, the use of 
that salutary, though dangerous, liquor. These painful restraints 
are, doubtless, infringed by the libertine and eluded by the hypo- 
crite; but the legislator, by whom they are enacted, cannot surely 
be accused of alluring his proselytes by the indulgence of their 
sensual appetites. The charity of the Mohammedans descends to 
the animal creation; and the Koran repeatedly inculcates, not as 
a merit, but as a strict and indispensable duty, the relief of the 
indigent and unfortunate. Mohammed, perhaps, is the only law- 
giver who has defined the precise measure of charity : the standard 
may vary with the degree and nature of property, as it consists 
either in money, in corn or cattle, in fruits or merchandise, but the 
Mussulman does not accomplish the law unless he bestows a tenth 
of his revenue ; and if his conscience accuses him of fraud or extor- 
tion, the tenth, under the idea of restitution, is enlarged to a fifth. 
Benevolence is the foundation of justice, since we are forbid to 
injure those whom we are bound to assist. A prophet may reveal 



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216 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

the secrets of heaven and of futurity, but in his moral precepts he 
can only repeat the lessons of our own hearts. 

The two articles of belief and the four practical duties of 
Islam are guarded by rewards and punishments, and the faith of 
the Mussulman is devoutly fixed on the event of the judgment and 
the last day. The Prophet has not presumed to determine the mo- 
ment of that awful catastrophe, though he darkly announces the 
signs, both in heaven and earth, which will precede the universal 
dissolution, when life shall be destroyed and the order of creation 
shall be confounded in the primitive chaos. At the blast of the 
trumpet new worlds will start into being, angels, genii, and men 
will arise from the dead, and the human soul will again be united 
to the body. The doctrine of the resurrection was first entertained 
by the Egyptians, and their mummies were embalmed, their prya- 
mids were constructed, to preserve the ancient mansion of the 
soul during a period of three thousand years. But the attempt is 
partial and unavailing, and it is with a more philosophic spirit that 
Mohammed relies on the omnipotence of the Creator, whose word 
can reanimate the breathless clay and collect the innumerable atoms 
that no longer retain their form or substance. The intermediate 
state of the soul it is hard to decide; and those who most firmly be- 
lieve her immaterial nature are at a loss to understand how she 
can think or act without the agency of the organs of sense. 

The reunion of the soul and body will be followed by the final 
judgment of mankind ; and in his copy of the Magian picture the 
Prophet has too faithfully represented the forms of proceeding, 
and even the slow and successive operations, of an earthly tribunal. 
By his intolerant adversaries he is upbraided for extending, even to 
themselves, the hope of salvation, for asserting the blackest heresy, 
that every man who believes in God and accomplishes good works, 
may expect in the last day a favorable sentence. Such rational indif- 
ference is ill-adapted to the character of a fanatic ; nor is it probable 
that a messenger from heaven should depreciate the value and neces- 
sity of his own revelation. In the idiom of the Koran, the belief of 
God is inseparable from that of Mohammed. The good works are 
those which he has enjoined, and the two qualifications imply the 
profession of Islam, to which all nations and all sects are equally 
invited. Their spiritual blindness, though excused by ignorance 
and crowned with virtue, will be scourged with everlasting tor- 
ments, and the tears which Mohammed shed over the tomb of his 



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ARABIA 317 

mother, for whom he was forbidden to pray, display a striking con- 
trast of humanity and enthusiasm. The doom of the infidels is 
common. The measure of their guilt and punishment is deter- 
mined by the degree of evidence which they have rejected, by the 
magnitude of the errors which they have entertained. The eternal 
mansions of the Christians, the Jews, the Sabians, the Magians, 
and idolaters are sunk below each other in the abyss, and the lowest 
hell is reserved for the faithless hypocrites who have assumed the 
mask of religion. After the greater part of mankind have been 
condemned for their opinions, the true believers only will be judged 
by their actions. The good and evil of each Mussulman will be 
accurately weighed in a real or allegorical balance, and a sin- 
gular mode of compensation will be allowed for the payment of 
injuries. The aggressor will refund an equivalent of his own good 
actions for the benefit of the person whom he has wronged, and if 
he should be destitute of any moral property the weight of his sins 
will be loaded with an adequate share of the demerits of the suf- 
ferer. According as the shares of guilt or virtue shall preponderate, 
the sentence will be pronounced, and all, without distinction, will pass 
over the sharp and perilous bridge of the abyss; bat the innocent, 
treading in the footsteps of Mohammed, will gloriously enter the 
gates of paradise, while the guilty will fall into the first and mildest 
of the seven hells. The term of expiation will vary from nine hun- 
dred to seven thousand years, but the Prophet has judiciously 
promised that all his disciples, whatever may be their sins, shall be 
saved by their own faith and his intercession from eternal dam- 
nation. It is not surprising that superstition should act most pow- 
erfully on the fears of her votaries, since the human fancy can paint 
with more energy the misery than the bliss of a future life. With 
the two simple elements of darkness and fire we create a sensation 
of pain, which may be aggravated to an infinite degree by the idea 
of endless duration. But the same idea operates with an opposite 
effect on the continuity of pleasure; and too much of our present 
enjoyments is obtained from the relief, or the comparison, of evil. 
It is natural enough that an Arabian prophet should dwell with 
rapture on the groves, the fountains, and the rivers of paradise; but 
instead of inspiring the blessed inhabitants with a liberal taste 
for harmony and science, conversation and friendship, he idly cele- 
brates the pearls and diamonds, the robes of silk, palaces of marble, 
dishes of gold, rich wines, artificial dainties, numerous attendants, 



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218 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

and the whole train of sensual and costly luxury, which becomes 
insipid to the owner, even in the short period of this mortal life. 
Seventy-two houris, or black-eyed girls, of resplendent beauty, 
blooming youth, virgin purity, and exquisite sensibility, will be 
created for the use of the meanest believer; a moment of pleasure 
will be prolonged to a thousand years, and his faculties will be 
increased a hundred fold, to render him worthy of his felicity. 
Notwithstanding a vulgar prejudice, the gates of heaven will be 
open to both sexes, but Mohammed has not specified the male com- 
panions of the female elect, lest he should either alarm the jealousy 
of their former husbands, or disturb their felicity, by the suspicion 
of an everlasting marriage. This image of a carnal paradise has 
provoked the indignation, perhaps the envy, of the monks. They 
declaim against the impure religion of Mohammed, and his modest 
apologists are driven to the poor excuse of figures and allegories. 
But the sounder and more consistent party adhere, without shame, 
to the literal interpretation of the Koran. Useless would be the 
resurrection of the body unless it were restored to the possession 
and exercise of its worthiest faculties, and the union of sensual 
and intellectual enjoyment is requisite to complete the happiness 
of the double animal, the perfect man. Yet the joys of the Mo- 
hammedan paradise will not be confined to the indulgence of luxury 
and appetite, and the Prophet has expressly declared that all 
meaner happiness will be forgotten and despised by the saints and 
martyrs, who shall be admitted to the beatitude of the divine vision. 
The first and most arduous conquests of Mohammed were 
those of his wife, his servant, his pupil, and his friend; since he 
presented himself as a prophet to those who were most conversant 
with his infirmities as a man. Yet Kadijah believed the words, 
and cherished the glory, of her husband ; the obsequious and affec- 
tionate Zeid was tempted by the prospect of freedom ; the illustrious 
AH, the son of Abu Talib, embraced the sentiments of his cousin 
with the spirit of a youthful hero; and the wealth, the mod- 
eration, the veracity of Abu Bekr confirmed the religion of the 
Prophet, whom he was destined to succeed. By his persuasion ten 
of the most respectable citizens of Mecca were introduced to the 
private lessons of Islam; they yielded to the voice of reason and 
enthusiasm; they repeated the fundamental creed, "There is but 
one God, and Mohammed is the Apostle of God " ; and their faith, 
even in this life, was rewarded with riches and honors, with the 



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ARABIA 219 

command of armies and the government of kingdoms. Three 
years were silently employed in the conversion of fourteen prose- 
lytes, the first fruits of his mission; but in the fourth year he 
assumed the prophetic office and, resolving to impart to his family 
the light of divine truth, he prepared a banquet, a lamb, as it is 
said, and a bowl of milk, for the entertainment of forty guests of 
the race of Hashim. " Friends and kinsmen," said Mohammed 
to the assembly, "I offer you, and I alone can offer, the most 
precious of gifts, the treasures of this world and of the world to 
come. God has commanded me to call you to his service. Who 
among you will support my burden? Who among you will be 
my companion and my vizier?" No answer was returned, till 
the silence of astonishment, and doubt, and contempt was at length 
broken by the impatient courage of AH, a youth in the fourteenth 
year of his age. "O Prophet, I am the man! whosoever rises 
against thee I will dash out his teeth, tear out his eyes, break his 
legs, rip up his belly. O Prophet, I will be thy vizier over them." 
Mohammed accepts his offer with transport, and Abu Talib was 
ironically exhorted to respect the superior dignity of his son. In 
a more serious tone the father of Ali advised his nephew to relin- 
quish his impracticable design. " Spare your remonstrances," re- 
plied the intrepid fanatic to his uncle and benefactor; "if they 
should place the sun on my right hand, and the moon on my left, 
they should not divert me from my course." He persevered ten 
years in the exercise of his mission, and the religion which has 
overspread the East and West advanced with a slow and painful 
progress within the walls of Mecca. Yet Mohammed enjoyed the 
satisfaction of beholding the increase of his infant congregation of 
Unitarians, who revered him as a prophet, and to whom he season- 
ably dispensed the spiritual nourishment of the Koran. The num- 
ber of proselytes may be estimated by the absence of eighty-three 
men and eighteen women, who retired to Ethiopia in the seventh 
year of his mission ; and his party was fortified by the timely con- 
version of his uncle, Hamza, and of the fierce and inflexible Omar, 
who signalized in the cause of Islam the same zeal which he had 
exerted for its destruction. Nor was the charity of Mohammed 
confined to the tribe of Koreish, or the precincts of Mecca; on 
solemn festivals, in the days of pilgrimage, he frequented the 
Kaaba, accosted the strangers of every tribe, and urged, both in 
private converse and public discourse* the belief and worship of 



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220 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

a sole Deity. Conscious of his reason and of his weakness, he 
asserted the liberty of conscience, and disclaimed the use of re- 
ligious violence. But he called the Arabs to repentance, and con- 
jured them to remember the ancient idolaters of Ad and Thamud, 
whom the divine justice had swept away from the face of the earth. 

The people of Mecca were hardened in their unbelief by super- 
stition and envy. The elders of the city, the uncles of the Prophet, 
affected to despise the presumption of an orphan, the reformer of 
his country. The pious orations of Mohammed in the Kaaba were 
answered by the clamors of Abu Talib. " Citizens and pilgrims, 
listen not to the tempter, hearken not to his impious novelties. 
Stand fast in the worship of Al Lata and Al Uzzah." Yet the 
son of Abdallah was ever dear to the aged chief, and he protected 
the fame and person of his nephew against the assaults of the 
Koreishites, who had long been jealous of the preeminence of the 
family of Hashim. Their malice was colored with the pretense 
of religion. In the age of Job the crime of impiety was punished 
by the Arabian magistrate, and Mohammed was guilty of deserting 
and denying the national deities. But so loose was the policy of 
Mecca, that the leaders of the Koreish, instead of accusing a crim- 
inal, were compelled to employ the measures of persuasion or vio- 
lence. They repeatedly addressed Abu Talib in the style of 
reproach and menace. " Thy nephew reviles our religion ; he ac- 
cuses our wise forefathers of ignorance and folly; silence him 
quickly, lest he kindle tumult and discord in the city. If he per- 
severe, we shall draw our swords against him and his adherents, 
and thou wilt be responsible for the blood of thy fellow-citizens." 
The weight and moderation of Abu Talib eluded the violence of 
religious faction, the most helpless or timid of the disciples retired 
to Ethiopia, and the Prophet withdrew himself to various places 
of strength in the town and country. As he was still supported by 
his family, the rest of the tribe of Koreish engaged themselves to 
renounce all intercourse with the children of Hashim, neither to 
buy nor sell, to marry nor to give in marriage, but to pursue them 
with implacable enmity, till they should deliver the person of Mo- 
hammed to the justice of the gods. The decree was suspended 
in the Kaaba before the eyes of the nation, and the messengers 
of the Koreish pursued the Mussulman exiles in the heart of Africa. 

They besieged the Prophet and his most faithful followers, 
intercepted their water, and inflamed their mutual animosity by the 



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ARABIA 221 

retaliation of injuries and insults. A doubtful truce restored the 
appearances of concord till the death of Abu Talib abandoned 
Mohammed to the powers of his enemies, at the moment when he 
was deprived of his domestic comforts by the loss of his faithful 
and generous Kadijah. Abu Sufyan, the chief of the branch of 
Omayyah, succeeded to the principality of the republic of Mecca. A 
zealous votary of the idols, a mortal foe of the line of Hashim, he 
convened an assembly of the Koreishites and their allies, to decide 
the fate of the Apostle. His imprisonment might provoke the 
despair of his enthusiasm, and the exile of an eloquent and popular 
fanatic would diffuse the mischief through the provinces of Arabia. 
His death was resolved, and they agreed that a sword from each 
tribe should be buried in his heart, to divide the guilt of his blood, 
and baffle the vengeance of the Hashimites. An angel or a spy re- 
vealed their conspiracy, and flight was the only resource of Mo- 
hammed. At the dead of night in 622 a. d., with his friend Abu 
Bekr, he silently escaped from his house. The assassins watched 
at the door, but they were deceived by the figure of Ali, who reposed 
on the bed, and was covered with the green vestment of the Apostle. 
The Koreish respected the piety of the heroic youth, but some verses 
of Ali which are still extant exhibit an interesting picture of his 
anxiety, his tenderness, and his religious confidence. Three days 
Mohammed and his companion were concealed in the cave of Thor, 
at the distance of a league from Mecca, and in the close of each 
evening they received from the son and daughter of Abu Bekr a 
secret supply of intelligence and food. The diligence of the Koreish 
explored every haunt in the neighborhood of the city. They arrived 
at the entrance of the cavern, but the providential deceit of a spider's 
web and a pigeon's nest is said to have convinced them that the 
place was solitary and inviolate. "We are only two/' said the 
trembling Abu Bekr. "There is a third," replied the Prophet; 
" it is God himself." No sooner was the pursuit abated than the 
two fugitives issued from the rock, and mounted their camels. 
On the road to Medina they were overtaken by the emissaries of 
the Koreish, but redeemed themselves with prayers and prom- 
ises from their hands. In this eventful moment the lance of an 
Arab might have changed the history of the world. The flight 
of the Prophet from Mecca to Medina has fixed the memorable 
era of the Hegira, which, at the end of twelve centuries, still dis- 
criminates the lunar years of the Mohammedan nations. 



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Chapter IV 

THE UNION OF ARABIA UNDER MOHAMMED 

THE religion of the Koran might have perished in its cradle 
had not Medina embraced with faith and reverence the holy 
outcasts of Mecca. Medina, or the "city," known under 
the name of Yathreb before it was sanctified by the throne of the 
Prophet, was divided between the tribes of the Kharegites and the 
Ausites, whose hereditary feud was rekindled by the slightest provo- 
cations. Two colonies of Jews, who boasted a sacerdotal race, were 
their humble allies, and without converting the Arabs they intro- 
duced the taste of science and religion, which distinguished Medina 
as the city of the Book. Some of her noblest citizens, in a pilgrim- 
age to the Kaaba, were converted by the preaching of Mohammed, 
and on their return they diffused the belief of God and his Prophet, 
and the new alliance was ratified by their deputies in two secret 
and nocturnal interviews on a hill in the suburbs of Mecca. In 
the first, ten Kharegites and two Ausites, united in faith and love, 
protested, in the name of their wives, their children, and their 
absent brethren, that they would forever profess the creed and 
observe the precepts of the Koran. The second was a political 
association, the first vital spark of the empire of the Saracens. 
Seventy-three men and two women of Medina held a solemn con- 
ference with Mohammed, his kinsmen, and his disciples, and 
pledged themselves to each other by a mutual oath of fidelity. They 
promised, in the name of the city, that if he should be banished they 
would receive him as a confederate, obey him as a leader, and 
defend him to the last extremity, like their wives and children, 
" But if you are recalled by your country," they asked, with a flat- 
tering anxiety, "will you not abandon your new allies?" "All 
things," replied Mohammed, with a smile, " are now common be- 
tween us ; your blood is as my blood, your ruin as my ruin. We 
are bound to each other by the ties of honor and interest. I am 
your friend, and the enemy of your foes." " But if we are killed 

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ARABIA 

in your service, what," exclaimed the deputies of Medina, " will 
be our reward ?" "Paradise," replied the Prophet. "Stretch 
forth thy hand." He stretched it forth, and they reiterated the 
oath of allegiance and fidelity. Their treaty was ratified by the 
people, who unanimously embraced the profession of Islam; they 
rejoiced in the exile of the Apostle, but they trembled for his safety 
and impatiently expected his arrival. After a perilous and rapid 
journey along the seacoast, he halted at Koba, two miles from the 
city, and made his public entry into Medina, sixteen days after his 
flight from Mecca. Five hundred of the citizens advanced to meet 
him, and he was hailed with acclamations of loyalty and devotion. 
Mohammed was mounted on a she-camel, an umbrella shaded his 
head, and a turban was unfurled before him to supply the deficiency 
of a standard. His bravest disciples, who had been scattered by 
the storm, assembled round his person, and the equal, though 
various, merit of the Moslems was distinguished by the names of 
" Mohajerians " and " Ansars," the fugitives of Mecca, and the aux- 
iliaries of Medina. To eradicate the seeds of jealousy Mohammed 
judiciously coupled his principal followers with the rights and obli- 
gations of brethren ; and when Ali found himself without a peer, the 
Prophet tenderly declared that he would be the companion and 
brother of the noble youth. The expedient was crowned with 
success; the holy fraternity was respected in peace and war, and 
the two parties vied with each other in a generous emulation of 
courage and fidelity. Once only the concord was slightly ruffled 
by an accidental quarrel : a patriot of Medina arraigned the inso- 
lence of the strangers, but the hint of their expulsion was heard 
with abhorrence, and his own son most eagerly offered to lay 
at the Apostle's feet the head of his father. 

From his establishment at Medina Mohammed assumed the 
exercise of the regal and sacerdotal office, and it was impious to 
appeal from a judge whose decrees were inspired by the divine 
wisdom. A small portion of ground, the patrimony of two or- 
phans, was acquired by gift or purchase, and on that chosen spot 
he built a house and a mosque, more venerable in their rude sim- 
plicity than the palaces and temples of the Assyrian monarchs. His 
seal of gold, or silver, was inscribed with the apostolic title ; when 
he prayed and preached in the weekly assembly he leaned against 
the trunk of a palm tree; and it was long before he indulged 
himself in the use of a chair or pulpit of rough timber. After a 



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284 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

reign of six years fifteen hundred Moslems, in arms and in the 
field, renewed their oath of allegiance; and their chief repeated 
the assurance of protection till the death of the last member, or 
the final dissolution of the party. It was in the same camp that 
the deputy of Mecca was astonished by the attention of the faithful 
to the words and looks of the Prophet, by the eagerness with which 
they collected his spittle, a hair that dropped on the ground, the 
refuse water of his lustrations, as if they participated in some 
degree of the prophetic virtue. " I have seen/' said he, " the 
Chosroes of Persia and the Caesar of Rome, but never did I be- 
hold a king among his subjects like Mohammed among his com- 
panions." The devout fervor of enthusiasm acts with more energy 
and truth than the cold and formal servility of courts. 

In the state of nature every man has a right to defend, by force 
of arms, his person and his possessions; to repel, or even to pre- 
vent, the violence of his enemies, and to extend his hostilities to a 
reasonable measure of satisfaction and retaliation. In the free 
society of the Arabs the duties of subject and citizen imposed a 
feeble restraint ; and Mohammed, in the exercise of a peaceful and 
benevolent mission, had been despoiled and banished by the in- 
justice of his countrymen. The choice of an independent people 
had exalted the fugitive with the rank of a sovereign and 
he was invested with the just prerogative of forming alliances, 
and of waging offensive or defensive war. The imperfection 
of human rights was supplied and armed by the plenitude of 
divine power : fhe Prophet of Medina assumed, in his new revela- 
tions, a fiercer and more sanguinary tone, which proves that his 
former moderation was the effect of weakness. The means of per- 
suasion had been tried, the season of forbearance was elapsed, and he 
was now commanded to propagate his religion by the sword, to de- 
stroy the monuments of idolatry, and, without regarding the sanctity 
of days or months, to pursue the unbelieving nations of the earth. 
The same bloody precepts, so repeatedly inculcated in the Koran, 
are ascribed by the author to the Pentateuch and the Gospel. But 
the mild tenor of the evangelic style may explain an ambiguous 
text that Jesus did not bring peace on the earth, but a sword ; his 
patient and humble virtues should not be confounded with the 
intolerant zeal of princes and bishops who have disgraced the name 
of his disciples. In the prosecution of religious war, Mohammed 
might appeal with more propriety to the example of Moses, of 



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ARABIA 825 

the judges, and the kings of Israel. The military laws of the 
Hebrews are still more rigid than those of the Arabian legislator. 
The Lord of Hosts marched in person before the Jews. If a city 
resisted their summons, the males, without distinction, were put 
to the sword : the seven nations of Canaan were devoted to destruc- 
tion, and neither repentance nor conversion could shield them from 
the inevitable doom, that no creature within their precincts should 
be left alive. The fair option of friendship, or submission, or 
battle was proposed to the enemies of Mohammed. If they pro- 
fessed the creed of Islam they were admitted to all the temporal 
and spiritual benefits of his primitive disciples, and marched under 
the same banner to extend the religion which they had embraced. 
The clemency of the Prophet was decided by his interest; yet he 
seldom trampled on a prostrate enemy, and he seems to promise 
that on the payment of a tribute the least guilty of his unbelieving 
subjects might be indulged in their worship, or at least in their 
imperfect faith. In the first months of his reign he practiced the 
lessons of holy warfare, and displayed his white banner before the 
gates of Medina. The martial Apostle fought in person at nine 
battles or sieges, and fifty enterprises of war were achieved in ten 
years by himself or his lieutenants. The Arab continued to unite 
the professions of a merchant and a robber, and his petty excur- 
sions for the defense or the attack of a caravan insensibly prepared 
his troops for the conquest of Arabia. The distribution of the 
spoil was regulated by a divine law. The whole was faithfully 
collected in one common mass: a fifth of the gold and silver, the 
prisoners and cattle, the movables and immovables, was reserved 
by the Prophet for pious and charitable uses; the remainder was 
shared in adequate portions by the soldiers who had obtained the 
victory or guarded the camp. The rewards of the slain devolved 
to their widows and orphans, and the increase of cavalry was 
encouraged by the allotment of a double share to the horse and 
to the man. From all sides the roving Arabs were allured to the 
standard of religion and plunder. The Apostle sanctified the license 
of embracing the female captives as their wives or concubines, 
and the enjoyment of wealth and beauty was a feeble type of the 
joys of paradise prepared for the valiant martyrs of the faith. 
" The sword," says Mohammed, " is the key of heaven and of 
hell; a drop of blood shed in the cause of God, a night spent in 
arms, is of more avail than two months of fasting or prayer; 



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826 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

whosoever falls in battle, his sins are forgiven; at the day of 
judgment his wounds shall be resplendent as vermilion, and odorif- 
erous as musk ; and the loss of his limbs shall be supplied by the 
wings of angels and cherubim." The intrepid souls of the Arabs 
were fired with enthusiasm. The picture of the invisible world 
was strongly painted on their imagination, and the death which 
they had always despised became an object of hope and desire. 
The Koran inculcates, in the most absolute sense, the tenets of 
fate and predestination, which would extinguish both industry 
and virtue if the actions of man were governed by his speculative 
belief. Yet their influence in every age has exalted the courage 
of the Saracens and Turks. The first companions of Mohammed 
advanced to battle with a fearless confidence. There is no danger 
where there is no chance: they were ordained to perish in their 
beds, or they were safe and invulnerable amidst the darts of the 
enemy. 

Perhaps the Koreish would have been content with the flight 
of Mohammed had they not been provoked and alarmed by the 
vengeance of an enemy who could intercept their Syrian trade 
as it passed and repassed through the territory of Medina. Abu 
Sufyan himself, with only thirty or forty followers, conducted 
a wealthy caravan of a thousand camels. The fortune or dexterity 
of his march escaped the vigilance of Mohammed, but the chief 
of the Koreish was informed that the holy robbers were placed in 
ambush to await his return. He dispatched a messenger to his 
brethren of Mecca, and they were roused by the fear of losing their 
merchandise and their provisions unless they hastened to his relief 
with the military force of the city. The sacred band of Mohammed 
was formed of 313 Moslems, of whom yy were fugitives, and the 
rest auxiliaries. They mounted by turns a train of 70 camels (the 
camels of Yathreb were formidable in war), but such was the 
poverty of his first disciples, that only two could appear on horse- 
back in the field. In the fertile and famous vale of Beder, three 
stations from Medina, he was informed by his scouts of the caravan 
that approached on one side; of the Koreish, 100 horse, 850 foot, 
who advanced on the other. After a short debate he sacrificed 
the prospect of wealth to the pursuit of glory and revenge; and 
a slight intrenchment was formed, to cover his troops, and a stream 
of fresh water that glided through the valley. "O God," he 
exclaimed, as the numbers of the Koreish descended from the hills, 



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ARABIA 827 

" O God, if these are destroyed, by whom wilt thou be worshiped 
on the earth? Courage, my children; close your ranks, discharge 
your arrows, and the day is your own." At these words he placed 
himself, with Abu Bekr, on a throne or pulpit, and instantly de- 
manded the succor of Gabriel and three thousand angels. His 
eye was fixed on the field of battle. The Mussulmans fainted and 
were pressed, but in that decisive moment the Prophet started from 
his throne, mounted his horse, and cast a handful of sand into the 
air: "Let their faces be covered with confusion." Both armies 
heard the thunder of his voice. Their fancy beheld the angelic 
warriors. The Koreish trembled and fled: seventy of the bravest 
were slain, and seventy captives adorned the first victory of the 
faithful. The dead bodies of the Koreish were despoiled and in- 
sulted. Two of the most obnoxious prisoners were punished with 
death, and the ransom of the others, four thousand drachms of silver, 
compensated in some degree the escape of the caravan. But it 
was in vain that the camels of Abu Sufyan explored a new road 
through the desert and along the Euphrates : they were overtaken 
by the diligence of the Mussulmans, and wealthy must have been 
the prize if twenty thousand drachms could be set apart for the fifth 
of the Apostle (624 a. d.). Resentment of the public and private 
loss stimulated Abu Sufyan to collect a body of 3000 men, 700 
of whom were armed with cuirasses, and 200 were mounted on 
horseback; 3000 camels attended his march, and his wife Hind, 
and fifteen matrons of Mecca, incessantly sounded their timbrels 
to animate the troops and to magnify the greatness of Hobal, 
the most popular deity of the Kaaba. The standard of God and 
Mohammed was upheld by 950 believers. The disproportion of 
numbers was not more alarming than in the field of Beder, 
and their presumption of victory prevailed against the divine and 
human sense of the Apostle. The second battle was fought on 
Mount Ohud, six miles to the north of Medina, in 625. The 
Koreish advanced in the form of a crescent, and the right wing of 
cavalry was led by Khalid, the fiercest and most successful of the 
Arabian warriors. The troops of Mohammed were skillfully posted 
on the declivity of the hill, and their rear was guarded by a de- 
tachment of fifty archers. The weight of their charge impelled 
and broke the center of the idolaters, but in the pursuit they lost 
the advantage of their ground, the archers deserted their station, 
the Mussulmans were tempted by the spoil, disobeyed their general, 



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ANCIENT EMPIRES 

and disordered their ranks. The intrepid Khalid, wheeling his 
calvary on their flank and rear, exclaimed, with a loud voice, that 
Mohammed was slain. He was indeed wounded in the face with 
a javelin, two of his teeth being shattered with a stone; yet in 
the midst of tumult and dismay he reproached the infidels with the 
murder of a prophet, and blessed the friendly hand that staunched 
his blood and conveyed him to a place of safety. Seventy martyrs 
died for the sins of the people. They fell, said the Apostle, in 
pairs, each brother embracing his lifeless companion; their bodies 
were mangled by the inhuman females of Mecca, and the wife of 
Abu Sufyan tasted the entrails of Hamza, the uncle of Moham- 
med. They might applaud their superstition and satiate their fury, 
but the Mussulmans soon rallied in the field, and the Koreish 
wanted strength or courage to undertake the siege of Medina. It 
was attacked the ensuing year by an army of 10,000 enemies, and 
this third expedition is variously named from the nations which 
marched under the banner of Abu Sufyan, from the ditch which 
was drawn before the city, and a camp of three thousand Mussul- 
mans. The prudence of Mohammed declined a general engage- 
ment; the valor of Ali was signalized in single combat; and the 
war was protracted twenty days, till the final separation of the 
confederates. A tempest of wind, rain, and hail overturned their 
tents, their private quarrels were fomented by an insidious ad- 
versary, and the Koreish, deserted by their allies, no longer hoped 
to subvert the throne or to check the conquests of their invin- 
cible exile. 

The choice of Jerusalem for the first kebla of prayer discovers 
the early propensity of Mohammed in favor of the Jews; and 
happy would it have been for their temporal interest had they rec- 
ognized in the Arabian prophet the hope of Israel and the promised 
Messiah. Their obstinacy converted his friendship into implacable 
hatred, with which he pursued that unfortunate people to the last 
moment of his life ; and in the double character of an Apostle and 
a conqueror his persecution was extended to both worlds. The 
Beni Kainoka dwelt at Medina under the protection of the city ; he 
seized the occasion of an accidental tumult, and summoned them 
to embrace his religion, or contend with him in battle. " Alas ! " 
replied the trembling Jews, " we are ignorant of the use of arms, 
but we persevere in the faith and worship of our fathers ; why wilt 
thou reduce us to the necessity of a just defense?" The unequal 



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ARABIA 229 

conflict was terminated in fifteen days, and it was with extreme 
reluctance that Mohammed yielded to the importunity of his allies, 
and consented to spare the lives of the captives. But their riches 
were confiscated, their arms became more effectual in the hands 
of the Mussulmans, and about seven hundred wretched exiles were 
driven, with their wives and children, to implore a refuge on 
the confines of Syria. The Beni Nadir were more guilty, since they 
conspired, in a friendly interview, to assassinate the Prophet. He 
besieged their castle, three miles from Medina, but their resolute 
defense obtained an honorable capitulation; and the garrison 
sounding their trumpets and beating their drums, was permitted 
to depart with the honors of war. The Jews had excited and 
joined the war of the Koreish. No sooner had the nations retired 
from the ditch, than Mohammed, without laying aside his armor, 
marched on the same day to extirpate the hostile race of the chil- 
dren of Koraiza. After a resistance of twenty -five days they 
surrendered at discretion. They trusted to the intercession of 
their old allies of Medina; they could not be ignorant that fanati- 
cism obliterates the feelings of humanity. A venerable elder, to 
whose judgment they appealed, pronounced the sentence of their 
death. Seven hundred Jews were dragged in chains to the market 
place of the city, and descended alive into the grave prepared for 
their execution and burial ; and the Apostle beheld with an inflexible 
eye the slaughter of his helpless enemies. Their sheep and camels 
were inherited by the Mussulmans. Three hundred cuirasses, five 
hundred pikes, a thousand lances, composed the most useful portion 

, of the spoil. Six days' journey to the northeast of Medina the 
ancient and wealthy town of Khaibar was the seat of the Jewish 
power in Arabia. The territory, a fertile spot in the desert, was 
covered with plantations and cattle, and protected by eight castles, 
some of which were esteemed of impregnable strength. The forces 
of Mohammed consisted of 200 horse and 1400 foot. In the suc- 

, cession of eight regular and painful sieges they were exposed 
to danger, and fatigue, and hunger ; and the most undaunted chiefs 
despaired of the event. The Apostle revived their faith and cour- 
age by the example of Ali, on whom he bestowed the surname 
of the Lion of God. Perhaps we may believe that a Hebrew 
champion of gigantic stature was cloven to the chest by his irre- 
sistible scimiter; but we cannot praise the modesty of romance, 
which represents him as tearing from its hinges the gate of a 



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230 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

fortress and wielding the ponderous buckler in his left hand. After 
the reduction of the castles, in 628, the town of Khaibar submitted 
to the yoke. The chief of the tribe was tortured, in the presence 
of Mohammed, to force a confession of his hidden treasure. The 
industry of the shepherds and husbandmen was rewarded with a 
precarious toleration; they were permitted, so long as it should 
please the conqueror, to improve their patrimony, in equal shares, 
for his emolument and their own. Under the reign of Omar the 
Jews of Khaibar were transplanted to Syria, and the caliph alleged 
the injunction of his dying master, that one and the true religion 
should be professed in his native land of Arabia. 

Five times each day the eyes of Mohammed were turned 
toward Mecca, and he was urged by the most sacred and powerful 
motives to revisit, as a conqueror, the city and the temple from 
whence he had been driven as an exile. The Kaaba was present 
to his waking and sleeping fancy; and idle dream was translated 
into vision and prophecy. He unfurled the holy banner, and a 
rash promise of success too hastily dropped from the lips of the 
Apostle. His march from Medina to Mecca displayed the peaceful 
and solemn pomp of a pilgrimage. Seventy camels, chosen and 
bedecked for sacrifice, preceded the van; the sacred territory was 
respected ; and the captives were dismissed without ransom to pro- 
claim his clemency and devotion. But no sooner did Mohammed 
descend into the plain, within a day's journey of the city, than he 
exclaimed: "They have clothed themselves with the skins of 
tigers ! " The numbers and resolution of the Koreish opposed his 
progress, and the roving Arabs of the desert might desert or betray 
a leader whom they had followed for the hopes of spoil. The in- 
trepid fanatic sank into a cool and cautious politician. He waived 
in the treaty his title of Apostle of God, concluded with the Koreish 
and their allies a truce of ten years, engaged to restore the fugitives 
of Mecca who should embrace his religion, and stipulated only, 
for the ensuing year, the humble privilege of entering the city as 
a friend, and remaining three days to accomplish the rites of the 
pilgrimage. A cloud of shame and sorrow hung on the retreat 
of the Mussulmans, and their disappointment might justly accuse 
the failure of a prophet who had so often appealed to the evidence 
of success. The faith and hope of the pilgrims were rekindled by 
the prospect of Mecca, and their swords sheathed, seven times 
in the footsteps of the Apostle they encompassed the Kaaba. The 



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MOHAMMED, PREACHING THE UNITY OF GOD, ENTERS MECCA 
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ARABIA S81 

Koreish had retired to the hills, and Mohammed, after the custom- 
ary sacrifice, evacuated the city on the fourth day. The people 
were edified by his devotion; the hostile chiefs were awed, or di- 
vided, or seduced; and both Khalid and Amru, the future con- 
querors of Syria and Egypt, most seasonably deserted the sinking 
cause of idolatry. The power of Mohammed was increased by the 
submission of the Arabian tribes; ten thousand soldiers were as- 
sembled for the conquest of Mecca ; and the idolaters, the weaker 
party, were easily convicted of violating the truce. Enthusiasm 
and discipline impelled the march and preserved the secret till the 
blaze of ten thousand fires proclaimed to the astonished Koreish 
the design, the approach, and the irresistible force of the enemy. 
The haughty Abu Sufyan presented the keys of the city, admired 
the variety of arms and ensigns that passed before him in review; 
observed that the son of Abdallah had acquired a mighty kingdom, 
and confessed, under the scimiter of Omar, that he was the Apostle 
of the true God. The return of Marius and Scylla was stained with 
the blood of the Romans ; the revenge of Mohammed was stimulated 
by religious zeal, and his injured followers were eager to execute 
or to prevent the order of a massacre. Instead of indulging their 
passions and his own, the victorious exile forgave the guilt, and 
united the factions of Mecca. His troops, in three divisions, 
marched into the city; eight-and-twenty of the inhabitants were 
slain by the sword of Khalid ; eleven men and six women were pro- 
scribed by the sentence of Mohammed; but he blamed the cruelty 
of his lieutenant, and several of the most obnoxious victims were 
indebted for their lives to his clemency or contempt. The chiefs 
of the Koreish were prostrate at his feet. " What mercy can you 
expect from the man whom you have wronged ? " " We confide 
in the generosity of our kinsmen." "And you shall not confide 
in vain. Begone! you are safe, you are free." The people of 
Mecca deserved their pardon by the profession of Islam, and after 
an exile of seven years the fugitive missionary was enthroned as 
the prince and prophet of his native country. But the 360 idols 
of the Kaaba were ignominiously broken, and the house of God was 
purified and adorned. As an example to future times, the Apostle 
again fulfilled the duties of a pilgrim, and a perpetual law was 
enacted that no unbeliever should dare to set his foot on the terri- 
tory of the holy city. 

The conquest of Mecca in 630 determined the faith and obedi- 



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282 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

ence of the Arabian tribes, who, according to the vicissitudes of 
fortune, had obeyed, or disregarded, the eloquence or the arms of 
the Prophet Indifference for rites and opinions still marks the 
character of the Beduins, and they might accept, as loosely as they 
hold, the doctrine of the Koran. Yet an obstinate remnant still 
adhered to the religion and liberty of their ancestors, and the war 
of Honain derived a proper appellation from the idols, whom 
Mohammed had avowed to destroy, and whom the confederates 
of Tayef had sworn to defend. Four thousand pagans advanced 
with secrecy and speed to surprise the conqueror. They pitied 
and despised the supine negligence of the Koreish, but they de- 
pended on the wishes, and perhaps the aid, of a people who had 
so lately renounced their gods and bowed beneath the yoke of their 
enemy. The banners of Medina and Mecca were displayed by 
the Prophet. A crowd of Beduins increased the strength or num- 
bers of the army, and 12,000 Mussulmans entertained a rash and 
sinful presumption of their invincible strength. They descended 
without precaution into the valley of Honain, whose heights had 
been occupied by the archers and slingers of the confederates. 
Their numbers were oppressed, their discipline was confounded, 
their courage was appalled, and the Koreish smiled at their im- 
pending destruction. The Prophet, on his white mule, was 
encompassed by the enemies. He attempted to rush against their 
spears in search of a glorious death, but ten of his faithful com- 
panions interposed their weapons and their breasts, three of these 
falling dead at his feet. "O my brethren," he repeatedly cried, 
with sorrow and indignation, "I am the son of Abdallah, I am 
the Apostle of truth I O man, stand fast in the faith ! O God, send 
down thy succor ! " His uncle Abbas, who, like the heroes of 
Homer, excelled in the loudness of his voice, made the valley re- 
sound with the recital of the gifts and promises of God. The 
flying Moslems returned from all sides to the holy standard, and 
Mohammed observed with pleasure that the furnace was again 
rekindled. His conduct and example restored the battle, and he 
animated his victorious troops to inflict a merciless revenge on 
the authors of their shame. From the field of Honain he marched 
without delay to the siege of Tayef, sixty miles to the southeast 
of Mecca, a fortress of strength, whose fertile lands produce the 
fruits of Syria in the midst of the Arabian desert. A friendly tribe, 
instructed (I know not how) in the art of sieges, supplied him with 



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ARABIA 283 

a train of battering rams and military engines, with a body of 500 
artificers. But it was in vain that he offered freedom to the slaves 
of Tayef ; that he violated his own laws by the extirpation of the 
fruit trees; that the ground was opened by the miners; that the 
breach was assaulted by the troops. After a siege of twenty days 
the Prophet sounded a retreat, but he retreated with a song of 
devout triumph, and affected to pray for the repentance and safety 
of the unbelieving city. The spoil of this fortunate expedition 
amounted to six thousand captives, twenty-four thousand camels, 
forty thousand sheep, and four thousand ounces of silver. A tribe 
who had fought at Honain redeemed their prisoners by the sacri- 
fice of their idols, but Mohammed compensated the loss by resign- 
ing to the soldiers his fifth of the plunder, and wished, for their 
sake, that he possessed as many head of cattle as there were trees 
in the province of Tehama. Instead of chastising the disaffection 
of the Koreish, he endeavored to cut out their tongues (his own 
expression), and to secure their attachment by a superior measure 
of liberality — Abu Sufyan alone was presented with three hun- 
dred camels and twenty ounces of silver, and Mecca was sincerely 
converted to the profitable religion of the Koran. 

The fugitives and auxiliaries complained that they who had 
borne the burden were neglected in the season of victory. " Alas ! " 
replied their artful leader, "suffer me to conciliate these recent 
enemies, these doubtful proselytes, by the gift of some perishable 
goods. To your guard I intrust my life and fortunes. You are 
the companions of my exile, of my kingdom, of my paradise." 
He was followed by the deputies of Tayef, who dreaded the repeti- 
tion of a siege. " Grant us, O Apostle of God ! a truce of three 
years, with the toleration of our ancient worship/' " Not a month, 
not an hour." " Excuse us at least from the obligation of prayer." 
"Without prayer religion is of no avail." They submitted in 
silence; their temples were demolished, and the same sentence of 
destruction was executed on all the idols of Arabia. His lieuten- 
ants, on the shores of the Red Sea, the Ocean, and the Gulf of 
Persia, were saluted by the acclamations of a faithful people ; and 
the ambassadors who knelt before the throne of Medina were as 
numerous (says the Arabian proverb) as the dates that fall from 
the maturity of a palm tree. The nation submitted to the God and 
scepter of Mohammed, the opprobrious name of tribute was abol- 
ished, the spontaneous or reluctant oblations of arms and tithes 



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234 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

were applied to the service of religion, and 114,000 Moslems ac- 
companied the last pilgrimage of the Apostle. 

When Heraclius returned in triumph from the Persian war 
in 628 he entertained, at Emesa, one of the ambassadors of Mo- 
hammed, who invited the princes and nations of the earth to the 
profession of Islam. On this foundation the zeal of the Arabians 
has supposed the secret conversion of the Christian emperor: the 
vanity of the Greeks has feigned a personal visit of the prince 
of Medina, who accepted from the royal bounty a rich domain, 
and a secure retreat, in the province of Syria. But the friendship 
of Heraclius and Mohammed was of short continuance. The 
new religion had inflamed rather than assuaged the rapacious 
spirit of the Saracens, and the murder of an envoy afforded a 
decent pretense for invading, with 3000 soldiers, the territory of 
Palestine that extends eastward of the Jordan. The holy banner 
was intrusted to Zeid, and such was the discipline or enthusiasm 
of the rising sect that the noblest chiefs served without reluctance 
under the slave of the Prophet In the event of his decease, Jaafar 
and Abdallah were successively substituted to the command; and 
if the three should perish in the war the troops were authorized to 
elect their general. The three leaders were slain in the battle 
of Muta, the first military action which tried the valor of the 
Moslems against a foreign enemy. Zeid fell, like a soldier, in the 
foremost ranks. The death of Jaafar was heroic and memorable; 
he lost his right hand; he shifted the standard to his left; the 
left was severed from his body; he embraced the standard with 
his bleeding stumps till he was transfixed to the ground with fifty 
honorable wounds. " Advance," cried Abdallah, who stepped into 
the vacant place, "advance with confidence; either victory or 
paradise is our own." The lance of a Roman decided the alterna- 
tive ; but the falling standard was rescued by Khalid, the proselyte 
of Mecca; nine swords were broken in his hand, and his valor 
withstood and repulsed the superior numbers of the Christians. In 
the nocturnal council of the camp he was chosen to command; 
his skillful evolutions of the ensuing day secured either the victory 
or the retreat of the Saracens, and Khalid is renowned among his 
brethren and his enemies by the glorious appellation of the " Sword 
of God." In the pulpit Mohammed described, with prophetic rap- 
ture, the crowns of the blessed martyrs ; but in private he betrayed 
the feelings of human nature. He was surprised as he wept over 



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ARABIA 285 

the daughter of Zeid. "What do I see?" said the astonished 
votary. " You see," replied the Apostle, " a friend who is de- 
ploring the loss of his most faithful friend." After the conquest 
of Mecca the sovereign of Arabia affected to prevent the hostile 
preparations of Heraclius, and solemnly proclaimed war against 
the Romans without attempting to disguise the hardships and dan- 
gers of the enterprise. The Moslems were discouraged. They 
alleged the want of money, or horses, or provisions; the season 
of harvest, and the intolerable heat of the summer. " Hell is much 
hotter," said the indignant Prophet. He disdained to compel their 
service ; but on his return be admonished the most guilty by an ex- 
communication of fifty days. Their desertion enhanced the merit 
of Abu Bekr, Othman, and the faithful companions who devoted 
their lives and fortunes; and Mohammed displayed his banner at 
the head of 10,000 horse and 20,000 foot. Painful indeed was the 
distress of the march ; lassitude and thirst were aggravated by the 
scorching and pestilential winds of the desert; ten men rode by 
turns on the same camel, and they were reduced to the shameful 
necessity of drinking the water from the belly of that useful animal. 
In the mid-way, ten days' journey from Medina and Damascus, 
they reposed near the grove and fountain of Tabuc. Beyond that 
place Mohammed declined the prosecution of the war. He declared 
himself satisfied with the peaceful intentions, but was more probably 
daunted by the martial array of the emperor of the East. But the 
active and intrepid Khalid spread around the terror of his name, 
and the Prophet received the submission of the tribes and cities from 
the Euphrates to Ailah, at the head of the Red Sea. To his Chris- 
tian subjects Mohammed readily granted the security of their per- 
sons, the freedom of their trade, the property of their goods, and 
the toleration of their worship. The weakness of their Arabian 
brethren had restrained them from opposing his ambition, the 
disciples of Jesus were endeared to the enemy of the Jews, and it 
was the interest of a conqueror to propose a fair capitulation to the 
most powerful religion of the earth. 

Till the age of sixty-three years the strength of Mohammed 
was equal to the temporal and spiritual fatigues of his mission. His 
epileptic fits, an absurd calumny of the Greeks, would be an object 
of pity rather than abhorrence; but he seriously believed that he 
was poisoned at Khaibar by the revenge of a Jewish female. During 
four years the health of the Prophet declined, his infirmities in- 



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236 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

creased, but his mortal disease was a fever of fourteen days, which 
deprived him by intervals of the use of reason. As soon as he was 
conscious of his danger he edified his brethren by the humility 
of his virtue or penitence. " If there be any man," said the Apostle 
from the pulpit, "whom I have unjustly scourged, I submit my 
own back to the lash of retaliation. Have I aspersed the reputation 
of a Mussulman? Let him proclaim my thoughts in the face of 
the congregation. Has anyone been despoiled of his goods? The 
little that I possess shall compensate the principal and the interest 
of the debt." " Yes," replied a voice from the crowd, " I am entitled 
to three drachms of silver." Mohammed heard the complaint, satis- 
fied the demand, and thanked his creditor for accusing him in this 
world rather than at the day of judgment. He beheld with temperate 
firmness the approach of death, enfranchised his slaves (seventeen 
men, as they are named, and eleven women), minutely directed the 
order of his funeral, and moderated the lamentations of his weeping 
friends, on whom he bestowed the benediction of peace. Till the 
third day before his death he regularly performed the function of 
public prayer. The choice of Abu Bekr to supply his place appeared 
to mark that ancient and faithful friend as his successor in the sacer- 
dotal and regal office ; but he prudently declined the risk and envy 
of a more explicit nomination. At a moment when his faculties 
were visibly impaired, he called for pen and ink to write, or, more 
properly, to dictate, a divine book, the sum and accomplishment 
of all his revelations: a dispute arose in the chamber, whether he 
should be allowed to supersede the authority of the Koran, and the 
Prophet was forced to reprove the indecent vehemence of his dis- 
ciples. If the slightest credit may be afforded to the traditions of 
his wives and companions, he maintained, in the bosom of his family, 
and to the last moments of his life, the dignity of an apostle and the 
faith of an enthusiast; described the visits of Gabriel, who bade 
an everlasting farewell to the earth, and expressed his lively confi- 
dence, not only of the mercy, but of the favor, of the Supreme Being. 
In a familiar discourse he had mentioned his special prerogative, 
that the angel of death was not allowed to take his soul till he had 
respectfully asked the permission of the Prophet. The request was 
granted, and Mohammed immediately fell into the agony of his 
dissolution. His head was reclined on the lap of Ayesha, the best 
beloved of all his wives, and he fainted with the violence of pain ; 
recovering his spirits, he raised his eyes toward the roof of the 



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ARABIA 287 

house, and, with a steady look, though a faltering voice, uttered the 
last broken, though articulate, words: " O God! . . . pardon 
my sins. . . . Yes, ... I come, . . . among my 
fellow-citizens on high " ; and thus peaceably expired on a carpet 
spread upon the floor. An expedition for the conquest of Syria 
was stopped by this mournful event. The army halted at the gates 
of Medina, the chiefs were assembled round their dying master. 
The city, more especially the house, of the Prophet, was a scene of 
clamorous sorrow or silent despair; fanaticism alone could suggest 
a ray of hope and consolation. " How can he be dead, our witness, 
our intercessor, our mediator, with God ? By God he is not dead ; 
like Moses and Jesus, he is wrapped in a holy trance, and speedily 
will he return to his faithful people." The evidence of sense was 
disregarded, and Omar, unsheathing his scimiter, threatened to 
strike off the heads of the infidels who should dare to affirm that 
the Prophet was no more. The tumult was appeased by the weight 
and moderation of Abu Bekr. " Is it Mohammed," said he to Omar 
and the multitude, " or the God of Mohammed, whom you worship? 
The God of Mohammed liveth forever ; but the Apostle was a mortal 
like ourselves, and, according to his own prediction, he has ex- 
perienced the common fate of mortality." He was piously interred 
by the hands of his nearest kinsman on the same spot on which he 
expired. Medina has been sanctified by the death and burial of 
Mohammed, and the innumerable pilgrims of Mecca often turn aside 
from the way to bow, in voluntary devotion, before the simple 
tomb of the Prophet. 

At the conclusion of the life of Mohammed (he died at Medina, 
June 8, 632), it may perhaps be expected that I should balance his 
faults and virtues, that I should decide whether the title of en- 
thusiast or impostor more properly belongs to that extraordinary 
man. Had I been intimately conversant with the son of Abdallah, 
the task would still be difficult, and the success uncertain; at the 
distance of twelve centuries I darkly contemplate his shade through 
a cloud of religious incense ; and could I truly delineate the portrait 
of an hour, the fleeting resemblance would not equally apply to the 
solitary of Mount Hera, to the preacher of Mecca, and to the con- 
queror of Arabia. The author of a mighty revolution appears to 
have been endowed with a pious and contemplative disposition. So 
soon as marriage had raised him above the pressure of want, he 
avoided the paths of ambition and avarice ; and till the age of forty 



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ANCIENT EMPIRES 

he lived with innocence, and would have died without a name. The 
unity of God is an idea most congenial to nature and reason, and a 
slight conversation with the Jews and Christians would teach him 
to despise and detest the idolatry of Mecca. It was the duty of a 
man arid a citizen to impart the doctrine of salvation, to rescue his 
country from the dominion of sin and error. The energy of a mind 
incessantly bent on the same object would convert a general obliga- 
tion into a particular call ; the warm suggestions of the understand- 
ing or the fancy would be felt as the inspirations of Heaven ; the 
labor of thought would expire in rapture and vision ; and the inward 
sensation, the invisible monitor, would be described with the form 
and attributes of an angel of God. From enthusiasm to imposture 
the step is perilous and slippery. The demon of Socrates affords 
a memorable instance how a wise man may deceive himself, how a 
good man may deceive others, how the conscience may slumber in 
a mixed and middle state between self-illusion and voluntary fraud. 
Charity may believe that the original motives of Mohammed were 
those of pure and genuine benevolence; but a human missionary 
is incapable of cherishing the obstinate unbelievers who reject 
his claims, despise his arguments, and persecute his life ; he might 
forgive his personal adversaries, he may lawfully hate the enemies 
of God; the stern passions of pride and revenge were kindled in 
the bosom of Mohammed, and he sighed, like the prophet of Nine- 
veh, for the destruction of the rebels whom he had condemned. The 
injustice of Mecca and the choice of Medina transformed the citi- 
zen into a prince, the humble preacher into the leader of armies; 
but his sword was consecrated by the example of the saints; and 
the same God who afflicts a sinful world with pestilence and earth- 
quakes might inspire for their conversion or chastisement the valor 
of his servants. In the exercise of political government he was 
compelled to abate of the stern rigor of fanaticism, to comply in 
some measure with the prejudices and passion of his followers, and 
to employ even the vices of mankind as the instruments of their 
salvation. The use of fraud and perfidy, of cruelty and injustice, 
were often subservient to the propagation of the faith ; and Moham- 
med commanded or approved the assassination of the Jews and 
idolaters who had escaped from the field of battle. By the repetition 
of such acts the character of Mohammed must have been gradually 
stained ; and the influence of such pernicious habits would be poorly 
compensated by the practice of the personal and social virtues which 



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ARABIA 239 

are necessary to maintain the reputation of a prophet among his 
sectaries and friends. Of his last years ambition was the ruling pas- 
sion; and a politician will suspect that he secretely smiled (the vic- 
torious impostor!) at the enthusiasm of his youth and the credulity 
of his proselytes. A philosopher will observe that their credulity 
and his success would tend more strongly to fortify the assurance 
of his divine mission, that his interest and religion were inseparably 
connected, and that his conscience would be soothed by the persua- 
sion that he alone was absolved by the Deity from the obligation 
of positive and moral laws. If he retained any vestige of his native 
innocence, the sins of Mohammed may be allowed as an evidence 
of his sincerity. In the support of truth the arts of fraud and fic- 
tion may be deemed less criminal ; and he would have started at the 
foulness of the means, had he not been satisfied of the importance 
and justice of the end. Even in a conqueror or a priest, I can 
surprise a word or action of unaffected humanity ; and the decree 
of Mohammed that, in the sale of captives, the mothers should never 
be separated from their children, may suspend, or moderate, the 
censure of the historian. 

The good sense of Mohammed despised the pomp of royalty ; 
the Apostle of God submitted to the menial offices of the family — 
he kindled the fire, swept the floor, milked the ewes, and mended 
with his own hands his shoes and his woolen garment. Disdaining 
the penance and merit of a hermit, he observed, without effort or 
vanity, the abstemious diet of an Arab and a soldier. On solemn 
occasions he feasted his companions with rustic and hospitable 
plenty ; but in his domestic life many weeks would elapse without 
a fire being kindled on the hearth of the Prophet. The interdiction 
of wine was confirmed by his example; his hunger was appeased 
with a sparing allowance of barley bread. He delighted in the 
taste of milk and honey, but his ordinary food consisted of dates 
and water. Perfumes and women were the two sensual enjoyments 
which his nature required, and his religion did not forbid; and 
Mohammed affirmed that the fervor of his devotion was increased 
by these innocent pleasures. The heat of the climate inflames the 
blood of the Arabs, and their libidinous complexion has been noticed 
by the writers of antiquity. Their incontinence was regulated by 
the civil and religious laws of the Koran ; their incestuous alliances 
were blamed; the boundless license of polygamy was reduced to 
four legitimate wives or concubines; their rights both of bed and 



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240 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

of dowry were equitably determined; the freedom of divorce was 
discouraged, adultery was condemned as a capital offense ; and for- 
nication, in either sex, was punished with a hundred stripes. Such 
were the calm and rational precepts of the legislator; but in his 
private conduct Mohammed indulged the appetites of a man, and 
abused the claims of a prophet. The youth, the beauty, the spirit 
of Ayesha, gave her a superior ascendant; she was beloved and 
trusted by the Prophet, and after his death the daughter of Abu 
Bekr was long revered as the mother of the faithful 

During the twenty-four years of the marriage of Mohammed 
with Kadijah, her youthful husband abstained from the right of 
polygamy, and the pride or tenderness of the venerable matron was 
never insulted by the society of a rival. After her death he placed 
her in the rank of the four perfect women, with the sister of Moses, 
the mother of Jesus, and Fatima, the best beloved of his daughters. 
" Was she not old ? " said Ayesha, with the insolence of a blooming 
beauty; " has not God given you a better in her place? " " No, by 
God," said Mohammed, with an effusion of honest gratitude, " there 
never can be a better! She believed in me when men despised 
me; she relieved my wants when I was poor and persecuted by 
the world." 

In the largest indulgence of polygamy the founder of a religion 
and empire might aspire to multiply the chances of a numerous 
posterity and a lineal succession. The hopes of Mohammed were 
fatally disappointed. The four sons of Kadijah died in their in- 
fancy. Mary, his Egyptian concubine, was endeared to him by 
the birth of Ibrahim. At the end of fifteen months the Prophet 
wept over his grave ; but he sustained with firmness the raillery of 
his enemies, and checked the adulation or credulity of the Moslems 
by the assurance that an eclipse of the sun was not occasioned by 
the death of the infant. Kadijah had likewise given him four 
daughters, who were married to the most faithful of his disciples ; 
the three eldest died before their father, but Fatima, who possessed 
his confidence and love, became the wife of her cousin, AH, and the 
mother of an illustrious progeny. The merit and misfortunes of 
AH and his descendants will lead me to anticipate, in this place, the 
series of the Saracen caliphs, a title which describes the commanders 
of the faithful as the vicars and successors of the Apostle of God. 

The birth, the alliance, the character of AH, which exalted 
him above the rest of his countrymen, might justify his claim to 



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ARABIA 241 

the vacant throne of Arabia. The son of Abu Talib was, in his 
own right, the chief of the family of Hashim and the hereditary 
prince or guardian of the city and temple of Mecca. The light of 
prophecy was extinct, but the husband of Fatima might expect the 
inheritance and blessing of her father. The Arabs had sometimes 
been patient of a female reign, and the two grandsons of the Prophet 
had often been fondled in his lap, and shown in his pulpit, as the 
hope of his age and the chief of the youth of paradise. The first 
of the true believers might aspire to march before them in this world 
and in the next ; and if some were of a graver and more rigid cast, 
the zeal and virtue of Ali were never outstripped by any recent 
proselyte. He united the qualifications of a poet, a soldier, and a 
saint : his wisdom still breathes in a collection of moral and religious 
sayings; and every antagonist in the combats of the tongue or of 
the sword was subdued by his eloquence and valor. From the first 
hour of his mission to the last rites of his funeral the Apostle was 
never forsaken by a generous friend, whom he delighted to name 
his brother, his vicegerent, and the faithful Aaron of a second Moses. 
The son of Abu Talib was afterward reproached for neglecting to 
secure his interest by a solemn declaration of his right, which would 
have silenced all competition, and sealed his succession by the decrees 
of Heaven. But the unsuspecting hero confided in himself. The 
jealousy of empire, and perhaps the fear of opposition, might sus- 
pend the resolutions of Mohammed, and the bed of sickness was 
besieged by the artful Ayesha, the daughter of Abu Bekr, and the 
enemy of Ali. 



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Chapter V 

MOHAMMED'S SUCCESSORS AND THE SPREAD 
OF ISLAM 

THE silence and death of the Prophet in 632 restored the lib- 
erty of the people ; and his companions convened an assembly 
to deliberate on the choice of his successor. The hereditary 
claim and lofty spirit of Ali were offensive to an aristocracy of elders 
desirous of bestowing and resuming the scepter by a free and fre- 
quent election. The Koreish could never be reconciled to the proud 
preeminence of the line of Hashim; the ancient discord of the tribes 
was rekindled, the fugitives of Mecca and the auxiliaries of Medina 
asserted their respective merits, and the rash proposal of choosing 
two independent caliphs would have crushed in their infancy the re- 
ligion and empire of the Saracens. The tumult was appeased by the 
disinterested resolution of Omar, who, suddenly renouncing his own 
pretensions, stretched forth his hand and declared himself the first 
subject of the mild and venerable Abu Bekr. The urgency of the 
moment and the acquiescence of the people might excuse this illegal 
and precipitate measure, but Omar himself confessed from the pulpit 
that if any Mussulman should hereafter presume to anticipate the 
suffrage of his brethren, both the elector and the elected would be 
worthy of death. After the simple inauguration of Abu Bekr he 
was obeyed in Medina, Mecca, and the provinces of Arabia: the 
Hashimites alone declined the oath of fidelity, and their chief, in 
his own house, maintained, above six months, a sullen and inde- 
pendent reserve, without listening to the threats of Omar, who at- 
tempted to consume with fire the habitation of the daughter of the 
Apostle. 

The death of Fatima and the decline of his party subdued 
the indignant spirit of Ali ; he condescended to salute the commander 
of the faithful, accepted his excuse of the necessity of preventing 
their common enemies, and wisely rejected his courteous offer of 
abdicating the government of the Arabians. After a reign of two 
years, in 634, the aged caliph was summoned by the angel of death. 

849 



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ARABIA 243 

In his testament, with the tacit approbation of his companions, he 
bequeathed the scepter to the firm and intrepid virtue of Omar. " I 
have no occasion," said the modest candidate, " for the place." " But 
the place has occasion for you," replied Abu Bekr, who expired with 
a fervent prayer that the God of Mohammed would ratify his choice 
and direct the Mussulmans in the way of concord and obedience. 
The prayer was not ineffectual, since AH himself, in a life of privacy 
and prayer, professed to revere the superior worth and dignity of 
his rival, who comforted him for the loss of empire by the most 
flattering marks of confidence and esteem. In the eleventh year of 
his reign Omar received a mortal wound from the hand of an 
assassin. He rejected with equal impartiality the names of his 
son and of AH, refused to load his conscience with the sins of his 
successor, and devolved on six of the most respectable companions 
the arduous task of electing a commander of the faithful. On this 
occasion AH was again blamed by his friends for submitting his 
right to the judgment of men, for recognizing their jurisdiction by 
accepting a place among the six electors. He might have obtained 
their suffrage had he deigned to promise a strict and servile con- 
formity, not only to the Koran and tradition, but likewise to the 
determinations of two seniors. With these limitations, Othman, the 
secretary of Mohammed, accepted the government in 644 ; nor was 
it till after the third caliph, twenty-four years after the death of the 
Prophet, that AH was invested, by the popular choice, with the regal 
and sacerdotal office (656). The manners of the Arabians retained 
their primitive simplicity, and the son of Abu Talib despised the 
pomp and vanity of this world. At the hour of prayer he repaired 
to the mosque of Medina clothed in a thin cotton gown, a coarse 
turban on his head, his slippers in one hand, and his bow in the 
other, instead of a walking staff. The companions of the Prophet 
and the chiefs of the tribes saluted their new sovereign, and gave 
him their right hands as a sign of fealty and allegiance. 

The mischiefs that flow from the contests of ambition are usu- 
ally confined to the times and countries in which they have been 
agitated. But the religious discord of the friends and enemies of 
AH has been renewed in every age of the Hegira, and is still main- 
tained in the immortal hatred of the Persians and Turks. The for- 
mer, who are branded with the appellation of " Shiites," or sectaries, 
have enriched the Mohammedan creed with a new article of faith ; 
and if Mohammed be the apostle, his companion AH is the vicar, of 



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244 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

God. In their private converse, in their public worship, they bit- 
terly execrate the three usurpers who intercepted his indefeasible 
right to the dignity of imam and caliph; and the name of Omar 
expresses in their tongue the perfect accomplishment of wickedness 
and impiety. The " Sunnites," who are supported by the general 
consent and orthodox tradition of the Mussulmans, entertain a more 
impartial, or at least a more decent, opinion. They respect the mem- 
ory of Abu Bekr, Omar, Othman, and AH, the holy and legitimate 
successors of the Prophet. But they assign the last and most humble 
place to the husband of Fatima, in the persuasion that the order of 
succession was determined by the degrees of sanctity. An historian 
who balances the four caliphs with a hand unshaken by superstition 
will calmly pronounce that their manners were alike pure and ex- 
emplary, and their zeal was fervent and probably sincere, and 
that, in the midst of riches and power, their lives were devoted to 
the practice of moral and religious duties. But the public virtues 
of Abu Bekr and Omar, the prudence of the first, the severity of the 
second, maintained the peace and prosperity of their reigns. The 
feeble temper and declining age of Othman were incapable of sus- 
taining the weight of conquest and empire. He chose, and he was 
deceived ; he trusted, and he was betrayed : the most deserving of 
the faithful became useless or hostile to his government, and his 
lavish bounty was productive only of ingratitude and discontent 
The spirit of discord arose in the provinces: their deputies 
assembled at Medina, and the Kharegites, the desperate fanatics 
who disclaimed the yoke of subordination and reason, were con- 
founded among the free-born Arabs, who demanded the redress of 
their wrongs and the punishment of their oppressors. From Cufa, 
from Bassora, from Egypt, from the tribes of the desert, they rose 
in arms, encamped about a league from Medina, and dispatched a 
haughty mandate to their sovereign, requiring him to execute jus- 
tice or to descend from the throne. His repentance began to dis- 
arm and disperse the insurgents; but their fury was rekindled by 
the arts of his enemies, and the forgery of a perfidious secretary was 
contrived to blast his reputation and precipitate his fall. The caliph 
had lost the only guard of his predecessors, the esteem and confidence 
of the Moslems, and during a siege of six weeks his water and 
provisions were intercepted and the feeble gates of the palace were 
protected only by the scruples of the more timorous rebels. For- 
saken by those who had abused his simplicity, the hopeless and 



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ARABIA 245 

venerable caliph expected the approach of death: the brother of 
Ayesha marched at the head of the assassins, and Othman, with 
the Koran in his lap, was pierced with a multitude of wounds. A 
tumultuous anarchy of five days was appeased by the inauguration 
of Ali : his refusal would have provoked a general massacre. In 
this painful situation he supported the becoming pride of the chief 
of the Hashimites, declared that he had rather serve than reign, 
rebuked the presumption of the strangers, and required the formal, 
if not the voluntary, assent of the chiefs of the nation. He has never 
been accused of prompting the assassin of Omar, though Persia 
indiscreetly celebrates the festival of that holy martyr. The quarrel 
between Othman and his subjects was assuaged by the early media- 
tion of Ali; and Hassan, the eldest of his sons, was insulted and 
wounded in the defense of the caliph. Yet it is doubtful whether the 
father of Hassan was strenuous and sincere in his opposition to the 
rebels; and it is certain that he enjoyed the benefit of their crime. 
The temptation was indeed of such magnitude as might stagger 
and corrupt the most obdurate virtue. The ambitious candidate no 
longer aspired to the barren scepter of Arabia — the Saracens had 
been victorious in the East and West — and the wealthy kingdoms 
of Persia, Syria, and Egypt were the patrimony of the commander 
of the faithful. 

A life of prayer and contemplation had not chilled the martial 
activity of Ali; but in a mature age, after a long experience of 
mankind, he still betrayed in his conduct the rashness and indiscre- 
tion of youth. In the first days of his reign he neglected to secure, 
either by gifts or fetters, the doubtful allegiance of Telha and Zobeir, 
two of the most powerful of the Arabian chiefs. They escaped from 
Medina to Mecca, and from there to Bassora, erected the standard 
of revolt, and usurped the government of Irak, or Babylonia, which 
they had vainly solicited as the reward of their services. The mask 
of patriotism is allowed to cover the most glaring inconsistencies, 
and the enemies, perhaps the assassins, of Othman now demanded 
vengeance for his blood. They were accompanied in their flight by 
Ayesha, the widow of the Prophet, who cherished, to the last hour 
of her life, an implacable hatred against the husband and the pos- 
terity of Fatima. The most reasonable Moslems were scandalized 
that the mother of the faithful should expose in a camp her person 
and character; but the superstitious crowd was confident that her 
presence would sanctify the justice, and assure the success, of their 



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246 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

cause. At the head of 20,000 of his loyal Arabs, and 9000 valiant 
auxiliaries of Cufa, the caliph encountered and defeated the su- 
perior numbers of the rebels under the walls of Bassora. Their 
leaders, Telha and Zobeir, were slain in the first battle that stained 
with civil blood the arms of the Moslems. After passing through 
the ranks to animate the troops, Ayesha had chosen her post amid 
the dangers of the field. In the heat of the action seventy men who 
held the bridle of her camel were successively killed or wounded, 
and the cage or litter in which she sat was stuck with javelins 
and darts like the quills of a porcupine. The venerable captive sus- 
tained with firmness the reproaches of the conqueror, and was 
speedily dismissed to her proper station at the tomb of Mohammed, 
with the respect and tenderness that was still due to the widow of 
the Apostle. 

After this victory, which was designated as the Day of the 
Camel, AH marched against a more formidable adversary; against 
Moawiyah, the son of Abu Sufyan, who had assumed the title of 
caliph, and whose claim was supported by the forces of Syria and 
the interest of the house of Omayyah. From the passage of Thap- 
sacus the plain of Siffin extends along the western bank of the 
Euphrates. On this spacious and level theater the two competitors 
waged a desultory war of 1 10 days. In the course of ninety actions 
or skirmishes the loss of AH was estimated at twenty-five, that 
of Moawiyah at forty-five, thousand soldiers; and the list of the 
slain was dignified with the names of five-and-twenty veterans who 
had fought at Beder under the standard of Mohammed. In this 
sanguinary contest the lawful caliph displayed a superior character 
of valor and humanity. His troops were strictly enjoined to await 
the first onset of the enemy, to spare their flying brethren, and to 
respect the bodies of the dead and the chastity of the female cap- 
tives. He generously proposed to save the blood of the Moslems 
by a single combat; but his trembling rival declined the challenge 
as a sentence of inevitable death. The ranks of the Syrians were 
broken by the charge of a hero who was mounted on a piebald 
horse, and wielded with irresistible force his ponderous and two- 
edged sword. As often as he smote a rebel he shouted the Allah 
Akbar, " God is victorious ! " and in the tumult of a nocturnal 
battle he was heard to repeat four hundred times that tremendous 
exclamation. The prince of Damascus already meditated his 
flight, but the certain victory was snatched from the grasp of AH 



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ARABIA 247 

by the disobedience and enthusiasm of his troops. Their con- 
science was awed by the solemn appeal to the books of the Koran 
which Moawiyah exposed on the foremost lances; and AH was 
compelled to yield to a disgraceful truce and an insidious com- 
promise. He retreated with sorrow and indignation to Cufa; his 
party was discouraged ; the distant provinces of Persia, of Yemen, 
and of Egypt were subdued or seduced by his crafty rival; and 
the stroke of fanaticism, which was aimed against the three chiefs 
of the nation, was fatal only to the cousin of Mohammed. In 
the temple of Mecca three Kharegites or enthusiasts discoursed of 
the disorders of the church and state; they soon agreed that the 
deaths of Ali, of Moawiyah, and of his friend Amru, the viceroy 
of Egypt, would restore the peace and unity of religion. Each of 
the assassins chose his victim, poisoned his dagger, devoted his 
life, and secretly repaired to the scene of action. Their resolution 
was equally desperate; but the first mistook the person of Amru, 
and stabbed the deputy who occupied his seat; the prince of Da- 
mascus was dangerously hurt by the second; the lawful caliph, in 
the mosque of Cufa, received a mortal wound from the hand of the 
third. He expired in the sixty-third year of his age in 66 1, and 
mercifully recommended to his children that they would dispatch 
the murderer by a single stroke. The sepulcher of Ali was con- 
cealed from the tyrants of the house of Omayyah, but in the fourth 
age of the Hegira a tomb, a temple, a city, arose near the ruins 
of Cufa. Many thousands of the Shiites repose in holy ground at 
the feet of the vicar of God, and the desert is vivified by the numer- 
ous and annual visits of the Persians, who esteem their devotion 
not less meritorious than the pilgrimage of Mecca. 

The persecutors of Mohammed usurped the inheritance of his 
children ; and the champions of idolatry became the supreme heads 
of his religion and empire. The opposition of Abu Sufyan had 
been fierce and obstinate; his conversion was tardy and reluctant; 
his new faith was fortified by necessity and interest; he served, 
he fought, perhaps he believed, and the sins of the time of ignor- 
ance were atoned for by the later merits of the family of Omay- 
yah. Moawiyah, the son of Abu Sufyan, and of the cruel Hind, 
was dignified in his early youth with the office or title of secretary 
of the Prophet; the judgment of Omar intrusted him with the gov- 
ernment of Syria, and he administered that important province 
above forty years, either in a subordinate or supreme rank. With- 



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248 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

out renouncing the fame of valor and liberality, he affected the 
reputation of humanity and moderation: a grateful people was at- 
tached to their benefactor, and the victorious Moslems were en- 
riched with the spoils of Cyprus and Rhodes. The sacred duty 
of pursuing the assassins of Othman was the engine and pretense 
of his ambition. The bloody shirt of the martyr was exposed in 
the mosque of Damascus; the emir deplored the fate of his injured 
kinsman, and 60,000 Syrians were engaged in his service by an 
oath of fidelity and revenge. Amru, the conqueror of Egypt, 
himself an army, was the first who saluted the new monarch and 
divulged the dangerous secret that the Arabian caliphs might be 
created elsewhere than in the city of the Prophet. The policy of 
Moawiyah eluded the valor of his rival, and, after the death of 
Ali, he negotiated the abdication of his son Hassan, whose mind 
was either above or below the government of the world, and who 
retired without a sigh from the palace of Cufa to an humble cell 
near the tomb of his grandfather. The aspiring wishes of the 
caliph were finally crowned by the important change of an elective 
to an hereditary kingdom. Some murmurs of freedom or fanati- 
cism attested the reluctance of the Arabs, and four citizens of 
Medina refused the oath of fidelity; but the designs of Moawiyah 
were conducted with vigor and address, and his son Yezid, a feeble 
and dissolute youth, was proclaimed as the commander of the 
faithful and the successor of the Apostle of God. 

A familiar story is related of the benevolence of one of the 
sons of Ali. In serving at table a slave had inadvertently dropped 
a dish of scalding broth on his master: the heedless wretch fell 
prostrate, to deprecate his punishment, and repeated a verse of the 
Koran : " Paradise is for those who command their anger." " I 
am not angry." " And for those who pardon offenses." " I par- 
don your offense." "And for those who return good for evil." 
" I give you your liberty, and four hundred pieces of silver." With 
an equal measure of piety, Hosein, the younger brother of Has- 
san, inherited a remnant of his father's spirit, and served with 
honor against the Christians in the siege of Constantinople. The 
primogeniture of the line of Hashim, and the holy character of 
grandson of the Apostle, had centered in his person, and he was 
at liberty to prosecute his claim against Yezid, the tyrant of Da- 
mascus, whose vices he despised and whose title he had never 
deigned to acknowledge. A list was secretly transmitted from 



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ARABIA 249 

Cufa to Medina, of 140,000 Moslems who professed their attach- 
ment to his cause and who were eager to draw their swords so 
soon as he should appear on the banks of the Euphrates. Against 
the advice of his wisest friends, he resolved to trust his person and 
family in the hands of a perfidious people. He traversed the 
desert of Arabia with a timorous retinue of women and children, 
but as he approached the confines of Irak he was alarmed by the 
solitary or hostile face of the country, and suspected either the 
defection or ruin of his party. His fears were just. Obaid Allah, 
the governor of Cufa, had extinguished the first sparks of an in- 
surrection, and Hosein, in the plain of Kerbela, was encompassed 
by a body of 5000 horse, who intercepted his communication with 
the city and the river. He might still have escaped to a fortress 
in the desert, that had defied the power of Caesar and Chosroes, 
and confided in the fidelity of the tribe of Tai, which would have 
armed 10,000 warriors in his defense. In a conference with the 
chief of the enemy he proposed the option of three honorable con- 
ditions: that he should be allowed to return to Medina, or be 
stationed in a frontier garrison against the Turks, or safely be con- 
ducted to the presence of Yezid. But the commands of the caliph, 
or his lieutenant, were stern and absolute; and Hosein was in- 
formed that he must either submit as a captive and a criminal to 
the commander of the faithful, or expect the consequences of his 
rebellion. 

" Do you think," replied he, " to terrify me with death ? " 
And during the short respite of a night he prepared with calm 
and solemn resignation to encounter his fate. He checked the 
lamentations of his sister Fatima, who deplored the impending 
ruin of his house. " Our trust," said Hosein, " is in God alone. 
All things, both in heaven and earth, must perish and return to 
their Creator. My brother, my father, my mother, were better 
than me, and every Mussulman has an example in the Prophet." 

He pressed his friends to secure safety by a timely flight; 
they unanimously refused to desert or survive their beloved mas- 
ter; and their courage was fortified by a fervent prayer and the 
assurance of paradise. On the morning of the fatal day he mounted 
on horseback, with his sword in one hand and the Koran in the 
other: his generous band of martyrs consisted only of thirty-two 
horse and forty foot ; but their flanks and rear were secured by the 
tent-ropes, and by a deep trench which they had filled with lighted 



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250 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

fagots, according to the practice of the Arabs. The enemy ad- 
vanced with reluctance, and one of their chiefs deserted, with thirty 
followers, to claim the partnership of inevitable death. In every 
close onset or single combat the despair of the Fatimites was in- 
vincible; but the surrounding multitudes galled them from a dis- 
tance with a cloud of arrows, and the horses and men were suc- 
cessively slain. A truce was allowed on both sides for the hour 
of prayer, and the battle at length expired by the death of the last 
companions of Hosein. Alone, weary, and wounded, he seated 
himself at the door of his tent. As he tasted a drop of water, he 
was pierced in the mouth with a dart; and his son and nephew, 
two beautiful youths, were killed in his arms. He lifted his hands 
to heaven ; they were full of blood ; and he uttered a funeral prayer 
for the living and the dead. In a transport of despair his sister 
issued from the tent and adjured the general of the Cufians that 
he would not suffer Hosein to be murdered before his eyes ; a tear 
trickled down his venerable beard, and the boldest of his soldiers 
fell back on every side as the dying hero threw himself among 
them. The remorseless Shamer, a name detested by the faithful, 
reproached their cowardice; and the grandson of Mohammed was 
slain with three-and-thirty strokes of lances and swords. After 
they had trampled on his body, they carried his head to the castle 
of Cufa, and the inhuman Obaid Allah struck him on the mouth 
with a cane. "Alas," exclaimed an aged Mussulman, "on these 
lips have I seen the lips of the Apostle of God ! " In a distant 
age and climate the tragic scene of the death of Hosein will awaken 
the sympathy of the coldest reader. On the annual festival of his 
martyrdom, in the devout pilgrimage to his sepulcher, his Persian 
votaries abandon their souls to the religious frenzy of sorrow and 
indignation. 

When the sisters and children of AH were brought in chains to 
the throne of Damascus, the caliph was advised to extirpate the 
enmity of a popular and hostile race whom he had injured beyond 
the hope of reconciliation. But Yezid preferred the councils of 
mercy; and the mourning family was honorably dismissed to min- 
gle their tears with their kindred at Medina. The glory of mar- 
tyrdom superseded the right of primogeniture, and the twelve 
imams, or pontiffs, of the Persian creed, are AH, Hassan, Hosein, 
and the lineal descendants of Hosein to the ninth generation. 
Without arms, or treasures, or subjects they successively enjoyed 



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ARABIA 251 

the veneration of the people and provoked the jealousy of the 
reigning caliphs; their tombs, at Mecca or Medina, on the banks 
of the Euphrates, or in the province of Khorasan, are still visited 
by the devotion of their sect. Their names were often the pretense 
of sedition and civil war, but these royal saints despised the pomp 
of the world, submitted to the will of God and the injustice of man, 
and devoted their innocent lives to the study and practice of religion. 
The twelfth and last of the imams, known by the title of " Mahdi," 
or the divinely guided, surpassed the solitude and sanctity of his 
predecessors. He concealed himself in a cavern near Bagdad ; the 
time and place of his death are unknown ; and his votaries pretend 
that he still lives and will appear before the day of judgment to 
overthrow the tryanny of Dejal, or the Antichrist. In the lapse 
of two or three centuries the posterity of Abbas, the uncle of 
Mohammed, had multiplied to the number of 33,000. The race of 
AH might be equally prolific; the meanest individual was above 
the first and greatest of princes, and the most eminent were sup- 
posed to excel the perfection of angels. But their adverse for- 
tune and the wide extent of the Mussulman empire allowed an 
ample scope for every bold and artful impostor who claimed affin- 
ity with the holy seed; the scepter of the Almohades, in Spain 
and Africa; of the Fatimites, in Egypt and Syria; of the sultans 
of Yemen; and of the Sufees of Persia; has been consecrated by 
this vague and ambiguous title. Under their reigns it might be 
dangerous to dispute the legitimacy of their birth ; and one of the 
Fatimite caliphs silenced an indiscreet question by drawing his 
scimiter: " This," said Moez, " is my pedigree; and these " — cast- 
ing a handful of gold to his soldiers — " and these are my kindred 
and my children." In the various conditions of princes, or doctors, 
or nobles, or merchants, or beggars, a swarm of the genuine or 
fictitious descendants of Mohammed and Ali is honored with the 
appellation of sheiks, or sherifs, or emirs. In the Ottoman empire 
they are distinguished by a green turban, receive a stipend from 
the treasury, are judged only by their chief, and, however debased 
by fortune or character, still assert the proud preeminence of their 
birth. A family of three hundred persons, the pure and orthodox 
branch of the Caliph Hassan, is preserved without taint or suspicion 
in the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, and still retains, after the 
revolutions of twelve centuries, the custody of the temple and the 
sovereignty of their native land. The fame and merit of Mo- 



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252 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

hammed would ennoble a plebeian race, and the ancient blood of 
the Koreish transcends the recent majesty of the kings of the earth. 

The talents of Mohammed are entitled to our applause, but 
his success has, perhaps, too strongly attracted our admiration. 
Are we surprised that a multitude of proselytes should embrace 
the doctrine and the passions of an eloquent fanatic? In the here- 
sies of the church the same seduction has been tried and repeated 
from the time of the apostles to that of the reformers. Does it 
seem incredible that a private citizen should grasp the sword and 
the scepter, subdue his native country, and erect a monarchy by his 
victorious arms? In the moving picture of the dynasties of the 
East a hundred fortunate usurpers have arisen from a baser origin, 
surmounted more formidable obstacles, and filled a larger scope of 
empire and conquest. Mohammed was alike instructed to preach 
and to fight; and the union of these opposite qualities, while it 
enhanced his merit, contributed to his success. The operation of 
force and persuasion, of enthusiasm and fear, continually acted 
on each other, till every barrier yielded to their irresistible power. 
His voice invited the Arabs to freedom and victory, to arms and 
rapine, to the indulgence of their darling passions in this world 
and the other. The restraints which he imposed were requisite 
to establish the credit of the Prophet, and to exercise the obedience 
of the people; and the only objection to his success was his rational 
creed of the unity and perfections of God. It is not the propaga- 
tion, but the permanency of his religion, that deserves our wonder : 
the same pure and perfect impression which he engraved at Mecca 
and Medina is preserved, after the revolutions of twelve centuries, 
by the Indian, the African, and the Turkish proselytes of the 
Koran. 

The Mohammedans have uniformly withstood the temptation 
of reducing the object of their faith and devotion to a level with 
the senses and imagination of man. " I believe in one God, and 
Mohammed the Apostle of God," is the simple and invariable pro- 
fession of Islam. The intellectual image of the Deity has never 
been degraded by any visible idol ; the honors of the Prophet have 
never transgressed the measure of human virtue ; and his living pre- 
cepts have restrained the gratitude of his disciples within the bounds 
of reason and religion. The votaries of AH have, indeed, conse- 
crated the memory of their hero, his wife, and his children; and 
some of the Persian doctors pretend that the divine essence was 



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ARABIA 253 

incarnate in the person of the imams; but their superstition is uni- 
versally condemned by the Sunnites, and their impiety has afforded 
a seasonable warning against the worship of saints and martyrs. 
The metaphysical questions oh the attributes of God and the liberty 
of man have been agitated in the schools of the Mohammedans, as 
well as in those of the Christians, but among the former they have 
never engaged the passions of the people or disturbed the tran- 
quillity of the state. The cause of this important difference may 
be found in the separation or union of the regal and sacerdotal char- 
acters. It was the interest of the caliphs, the successors of the 
Prophet and commanders of the faithful, to repress and discourage 
all religious innovations. The order, the discipline, the temporal 
and spiritual ambition of the clergy are unknown to the Moslems, 
and the sages of the law are the guides of their conscience and the 
oracles of their faith. From the Atlantic to the Ganges the Koran 
is acknowledged as the fundamental code, not only of theology, but 
of civil and criminal jurisprudence; and the laws which regulate 
the actions and the property of mankind are guarded by the in- 
fallible and immutable sanction of the will of God. This religious 
servitude is attended with some practical disadvantage; the illit- 
erate legislator had been often misled by his own prejudices and 
those of his country, and the institutions of the Arabian desert may 
be ill-adapted to the wealth and numbers of Ispahan and Constanti- 
nople. On these occasions the cadi respectfully places on his head 
the holy volume and substitutes a dexterous interpretation more 
apposite to the principles of equity and the manners and policy of 
the times. 

His beneficial or pernicious influence on the public happiness 
is the last consideration in the character of Mohammed. The most 
bitter or most bigoted of his Christian or Jewish foes will surely 
allow that he assumed a false commission to inculcate a salutary 
doctrine, less perfect only than their own. He piously supposed, 
as the basis of his religion, the truth and sanctity of their prior 
revelations, the virtues and miracles of their founders. The idols 
of Arabia were broken before the throne of God; the blood of 
human victims was expiated by prayer, and fasting, and alms, the 
laudable or innocent arts of devotion ; and his rewards and punish- 
ments of a future life were painted by the images most congenial 
to an ignorant and carnal generation. Mohammed was, perhaps, 
incapable of dictating a moral and political system for the use of his 



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S54 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

countrymen ; but he breathed among the faithful a spirit of charity 
and friendship, recommended the practice of the social virtues, and 
checked, by his laws and precepts, the thirst of revenge and the op- 
pression of widows and orphans. The hostile tribes were united in 
faith and obedience, and the valor which had been idly spent in 
domestic quarrels was vigorously directed against a foreign enemy. 
Had the impulse been less powerful, Arabia, free at home and for- 
midable abroad, might have flourished under a succession of her 
native monarchs. Her sovereignty was lost by the extent and 
rapidity of conquest. The colonies of the nation were scattered 
over the East and West, and their blood was mingled with the 
blood of their converts and captives. After the reign of three 
caliphs the throne was transported from Medina to the valley of 
Damascus and the banks of the Tigris ; the holy cities were violated 
by impious war; Arabia was ruled by the rod of a subject, perhaps 
of a stranger; and the Beduins of the desert, awakening from 
their dream of dominion, resumed their old and solitary inde- 
pendence. 

The revolution of Arabia had not changed the character of 
the Arabs. The death of Mohammed was the signal of independ- 
ence, and the hasty structure of his power and religion tottered to 
its foundations. A small and faithful band of his primitive dis- 
ciples had listened to his eloquence, and shared his distress; had 
fled with the Apostle from the persecution of Mecca, or had re- 
ceived the fugitive in the walls of Medina. The increasing myriads 
who acknowledged Mohammed as their king and Prophet had been 
compelled by his arms or allured by his prosperity. The poly- 
theists were confounded by the simple idea of a solitary and 
invisible God; the pride of the Christians and Jews disdained the 
yoke of a mortal and contemporary legislator. Their habits of 
faith and obedience were not sufficiently confirmed, and many 
of the new converts regretted the venerable antiquity of the law of 
Moses, or the rites and mysteries of the Catholic Church, or the 
idols, the sacrifices, the joyous festivals of their pagan ancestors. 
The jarring interests and hereditary feuds of the Arabian tribes 
had not yet coalesced in a system of union and subordination, and 
the barbarians were impatient of the mildest and most salutary 
laws that curbed their passions or violated their customs. They 
submitted with reluctance to the religious precepts of the Koran, 
the abstinence from wine, the fast of the Ramadan, and the daily 



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ARABIA 255 

repetition of five prayers ; and the alms and tithes, which were col- 
lected for the treasury of Medina, could be distinguished only by 
a name from the payment of a perpetual and ignominious tribute. 
The example of Mohammed had excited a spirit of fanati- 
cism or imposture, and several rivals presumed to imitate the con- 
duct, and defy the authority, of the living Prophet. At the head 
of the fugitives and auxiliaries the first caliph was reduced to the 
cities of Mecca, Medina, and Tayef, and perhaps the Koreish 
would have restored the idols of the Kaaba if their levity had not 
been checked by a seasonable reproof. " Ye men of Mecca, will 
ye be the last to embrace, and the first to abandon, the religion of 
Islam ? " After exhorting the Moslems to confide in the aid of God 
and his Apostle, in 632 Abu Bekr resolved by a vigorous attack to 
prevent the junction of the rebels. The women and children were 
safely lodged in the cavities of the mountains ; the warriors, march- 
ing under eleven banners, diffused the terror of their arms; and 
the appearance of a military force revived and confirmed the loyalty 
of the faithful. The inconstant tribes accepted with humble re- 
pentance the duties of prayer, and fasting, and alms; and after 
some examples of success and severity the most daring apostates 
fell prostrate before the sword of the Lord and of Khalid. In the 
fertile province of Yemanah, between the Red Sea and the Gulf of 
Persia, in a city not inferior to Medina itself, a powerful chief (his 
name was Moseilama) had assumed the character of a prophet, 
and the tribe of Hanifa listened to his voice. A female prophetess 
was attracted by his reputation ; the decencies of words and actions 
were spurned by these favorites of Heaven; and they employed 
several days in mystic and amorous converse. An obscure sen- 
tence of his Koran, or book, is yet extant; and in the pride of his 
mission Moseilama condescended to offer a partition of the earth. 
The proposal was answered by Mohammed with contempt, but the 
rapid progress of the impostor awakened the fears of his suc- 
cessor. Forty thousand Moslems were soon assembled under the 
standard of Khalid, and the existence of their faith was resigned 
to the event of a decisive battle. In the first action they were re- 
pulsed with the loss of 1200 men; but the skill and perseverance 
of their general prevailed. Their defeat was avenged by the 
slaughter of 10,000 infidels, and Moseilama himself was pierced 
by an Ethiopian slave with the same javelin that had mortally 
wounded the uncle of Mohammed. The various rebels of Arabia, 



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256 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

without a chief or a cause, were speedily suppressed by the power 
and discipline of the rising monarchy, and the whole nation again 
professed, and more steadfastly held, the religion of the Koran. 
The ambition of the caliphs provided an immediate exercise for the 
restless spirit of the Saracens. Their valor was united in the prose- 
cution of a holy war, and their enthusiasm was equally confirmed 
by opposition and victory. 

From the rapid conquests of the Saracens a presumption will 
naturally arise that the caliphs commanded in person the armies of 
the faithful and sought the crown of martyrdom in the foremost 
ranks of the battle. The courage of Abu Bekr, Omar, and Oth- 
man had indeed been tried in the persecution and wars of the 
Prophet, and the personal assurance of paradise must have taught 
them to despise the pleasures and dangers of the present world. 
But they ascended the throne in a venerable or mature age, and 
esteemed the domestic cares of religion and justice the most impor- 
tant duties of a sovereign. Except the presence of Omar at the 
siege of Jerusalem, their longest expeditions were the frequent pil- 
grimages from Medina to Mecca ; and they calmly received the tid- 
ings of victory as they prayed or preached before the sepulcher 
of the Prophet. The austere and frugal measure of their lives was 
the effect of virtue or habit, and the pride of their simplicity in- 
sulted the vain magnificence of the kings of the earth. When Abu 
Bekr assumed the office of caliph he enjoined his daughter Ayesha 
to take a strict account of his private patrimony, that it might be 
evident whether he were enriched or impoverished by the service 
of the state. He thought himself entitled to a stipend of three 
pieces of gold, with the sufficient maintenance of a single camel 
and a black slave; but on the Friday of each week he distributed 
the residue of his own and the public money, first to the most wor- 
thy, and then to the most indigent, of the Moslems. The remains 
of his wealth, a coarse garment and five pieces of gold, were de- 
livered to his successor, who lamented with a modest sigh his own 
inability *o equal such an admirable model. Yet the abstinence and 
humility of Omar were not inferior to the virtues of Abu Bekr. 
His food consisted of barley bread or dates, his drink was water; 
he preached in a gown that was torn or tattered in twelve places, 
and a Persian satrap, who paid his homage to the conqueror, found 
him asleep among the beggars on the steps of the mosque of 
Medina. 



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ARABIA 857 

Economy is the source of liberality, and the increase of the 
revenue enabled Omar to establish a just and perpetual reward for 
the past and present services of the faithful. Careless of his own 
emolument, he assigned to Abbas, the uncle of the Prophet, the 
first and most ample allowance of twenty-five thousand drachms 
or pieces of silver. Five thousand were allotted to each of the 
aged warriors, the relics of the field of Beder, and the last and 
meanest of the companions of Mohammed was distinguished by the 
annual reward of three thousand pieces. One thousand was the 
stipend of the veterans who had fought in the first battles against 
the Greeks and Persians, and the decreasing pay, as low as fifty 
pieces of silver, was adapted to the respective merit and seniority 
of the soldiers of Omar. Under his reign, and that of his prede- 
cessor, the conquerors of the East were the trusty servants of God 
and the people; the mass of the public treasure was consecrated 
to the expenses of peace and war; a prudent mixture of justice and 
bounty maintained the discipline of the Saracens, and they united, 
by a rare felicity, the dispatch and execution of despotism with 
the equal and frugal maxims of a republican government. The 
heroic courage of Ali, the consummate prudence of Moawiyah, 
excited the emulation of their subjects ; and the talents which had 
been exercised in the school of civil discord were more usefully 
applied to propagate the faith and dominion of the Prophet. In 
the sloth and vanity of the palace of Damascus the succeeding 
princes of the house of Ommiyah were alike destitute of the qualifi- 
cations of statesmen and of saints. Yet the spoils of unknown 
nations were continually laid at the foot of their throne, and the 
uniform ascent of the Arabian greatness must be ascribed to the 
spirit of the nation rather than the abilities of their chiefs. A large 
deduction must be allowed for the weakness of their enemies. The 
birth of Mohammed was fortunately placed in the most degenerate 
and disorderly period of the Persians, the Romans, and the bar- 
barians of Europe. The empires of Trajan, or even of Constantine 
or Charlemagne, would have repelled the assault of the naked 
Saracens, and the torrent of fanaticism might have been obscurely 
lost in the sands of Arabia. 

In the victorious days of the Roman republic it had been the 
aim of the senate to confine their councils and legions to a single 
war, and completely to suppress a first enemy before they pro- 
voked the hostilities of a second. These timid maxims of policy 



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858 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

were disdained by the magnanimity or enthusiasm of the Arabian 
caliphs. With the same vigor and success they invaded the suc- 
cessors of Augustus and those of Artaxerxes; and the rival mon- 
archies at the same instant became the prey of an enemy whom 
they had been so long accustomed to despise. In the ten years of 
the administration of Omar, from 634 to 644, the Saracens reduced 
to his obedience thirty-six thousand cities or castles, destroyed four 
thousand churches or temples of the unbelievers, and raised four- 
teen hundred mosques for the exercise of the religion of Mo- 
hammed. One hundred years after his flight from Mecca the arms 
and the reign of his successors extended from India to the At- 
lantic Ocean, over various and distant provinces, comprising Per- 
sia, Syria, Egypt, Africa, and Spain. Under this general division 
I shall proceed to unfold these memorable transactions, dispatch- 
ing with brevity the remote and less interesting conquests of the 
East and reserving a fuller narrative for those domestic countries 
which had been included within the pale of the Roman Empire. 
Yet I must excuse my own defects by a just complaint of the 
blindness and insufficiency of my guides. The Greeks, so loqua- 
cious in controversy, have not been anxious to celebrate the tri- 
umphs of their enemies. After a century of ignorance, the first 
annals of the Mussulmans were collected in a great measure from 
the voice of tradition. Among the numerous productions of Arabic 
and Persian literature, our interpreters have selected the imperfect 
sketches of a more recent age. The art and genius of history have 
ever been unknown to the Asiatics; they are ignorant of the laws 
of criticism. 



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Chapter VI 

THE MOSLEM CONQUEST OF PERSIA AND SYRIA 

IN the first year of the first caliph, Abu Bekr, his lieutenant, 
Khalid, the Sword of God, and the scourge of the infidels, ad- 
vanced to the banks of the Euphrates and reduced the cities of 
Anbar and Hira. Westward of the ruins of Babylon a tribe of 
sedentary Arabs had fixed themselves on the verge of the desert, 
and Hira was the seat of a race of kings who had embraced the 
Christian religion, and reigned above six hundred years under the 
shadow of the throne of Persia. The last of the Mondars was de- 
feated and slain by Khalid ; his son was sent a captive to Medina, 
his nobles bowed before the successor of the Prophet; the people 
were tempted by the example and success of their countrymen, 
and the caliph accepted as the first fruits of foreign conquest an 
annual tribute of seventy thousand pieces of gold. The con- 
querors, and even their historians, were astonished by the dawn 
of their future greatness. " In the same year," says Elmakin, 
" Khalid fought many signal battles ; an immense multitude of 
the infidels were slaughtered, and spoils infinite and innumerable 
were acquired by the victorious Moslems." But the invincible 
Khalid was soon transferred to the Syrian war. The invasion of 
the Persian frontier was conducted by less active or less prudent 
commanders, the Saracens being repulsed with loss in the passage 
of the Euphrates, and though they chastised the insolent pursuit 
of the Magians, their remaining forces still hovered in the desert 
of Babylon. 

The indignation and fears of the Persians suspended for a 
moment their intestine divisions. By the unanimous sentence of 
the priests and nobles their queen, Arzema, was deposed — the sixth 
of the transient usurpers who had arisen and vanished in three or 
four years since the death of Chosroes and the retreat of Heraclius. 
Her tiara was placed on the head of Yezdegerd, the grandson of 
Chosroes, and the same era which coincides with an astronomical 
period has recorded the fall of the Sassanian dynasty and the re- 

969 



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860 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

Hgion of Zoroaster. The youth and inexperience of the prince 
(he was only fifteen years of age) declined a perilous encounter: 
the royal standard was delivered into the hands of his general, 
Rustam, and a remnant of 30,000 regular troops was swelled in 
truth, or in opinion, to 120,000 subjects, or allies, of the great 
king. The Moslems, whose numbers were reinforced from 12,000 
to 30,000, had pitched their camp in the plains of Cadesia, and their 
line, though it consisted of fewer men, could produce more sol- 
diers than the unwieldy host of the infidels. I shall here observe, 
what I must often repeat, that the charge of the Arabs was not, 
like that of the Greeks and Romans, the effort of a firm and com- 
pact infantry. Their military force was chiefly formed of cavalry 
and archers, and the engagement, which was often interrupted and 
often renewed by single combats and flying skirmishes, might be 
protracted without any decisive event to the continuance of several 
days. The periods of the battle of Cadesia, in 636, were distin- 
guished by their appellations. The first, from the well-timed appear- 
ance of 6000 of the Syrian brethren, was denominated the day 
of succor. The day of concussion might express the disorder of 
one, or perhaps of both, of the contending armies. The third, a 
nocturnal tumult, received the whimsical name of the night of 
barking, from the discordant clamors, which were compared to the 
inarticulate sounds of the fiercest animals. The morning of the 
succeeding day determined the fate of Persia, and a seasonable 
whirlwind drove a cloud of dust against the faces of the unbe- 
lievers. The clangor of arms was reechoed to the tent of Rustam, 
who, far unlike the ancient hero of his name, was gently reclining 
in a cool and tranquil shade, amid the baggage of his camp and 
the train of mules that were laden with gold and silver. On the 
sound of danger he started from his couch, but his flight was 
overtaken by a valiant Arab, who caught him by the foot, struck 
off his head, hoisted it on a lance, and, instantly returning to the 
field of battle, carried slaughter and dismay among the thickest 
ranks of the Persians. The Saracens confess a loss of 7500 men, 
and the battle of Cadesia is justly described by the epithets of 
obstinate and atrocious. The standard of the monarchy was over- 
thrown and captured in the field — a leathern apron of a blacksmith, 
who in ancient times had arisen the deliverer of Persia; but this 
badge of heroic poverty was disguised, and almost concealed, by a 
profusion of precious gems. After this victory the wealthy prov- 



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ARABIA 261 

ince of Irak, or Babylonia, submitted to the caliph, and his conquests 
were firmly established by the speedy foundation of Bassora, a 
place which ever commands the trade and navigation of the Per- 
sians. At the distance of fourscore miles from the Gulf the Eu- 
phrates and Tigris unite in a broad and direct current, which is 
aptly styled the river of the Arabs. In the midway, between the 
junction and the mouth of these famous streams, the new settle- 
ment was planted on the western bank. The first colony was com- 
posed of eight hundred Moslems, but the influence of the situation 
soon reared a flourishing and populous capital. The air, though 
excessively hot, is pure and healthy; the meadows are filled with 
palm trees and cattle; and one of the adjacent valleys has been 
celebrated among the four paradises or gardens of Asia. Under 
the first caliphs the jurisdiction of this Arabian colony extended 
over the southern provinces of Persia. The city has been sancti- 
fied by the tombs of the companions and martyrs, and the vessels 
of Europe still frequent the port of Bassora, as a convenient station 
and passage of the Indian trade. 

After the defeat of Cadesia a country intersected by rivers and 
canals might have opposed an insuperable barrier to the victorious 
cavalry; and the walls of Ctesiphon or Madayn, which had re- 
sisted the battering-rams of the Romans, would not have yielded 
to the darts of the Saracens. But the flying Persians were over- 
come by the belief that the last day of their religion and empire 
was at hand, the strongest posts were abandoned by treachery or 
cowardice, and the king, with a part of his family and treasures, 
escaped to Holwan at the foot of the Median hills. In the third 
month after the battle, Said, the lieutenant of Omar, passed the 
Tigris without opposition, the capital was taken by assault, and 
the disorderly resistance of the people gave a keener edge to the 
sabers of the Moslems, who shouted with religious transport, 
" This is the white palace of Chosroes ; this is the promise of the 
Apostle of God ! " The naked robbers of the desert were suddenly 
enriched beyond the measure of their hope or knowledge. Each 
chamber revealed a new treasure secreted with art, or ostenta- 
tiously displayed; the gold and silver, the various wardrobes and 
precious furniture surpassed (says Abulfeda) the estimate of fancy 
or numbers; and another historian defines the untold and almost 
infinite mass, by the fabulous computation of three thousands of 
thousands of thousands of pieces of gold. Some minute though 



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862 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

curious facts represent the contrast of riches and ignorance. From 
the remote islands of the Indian Ocean a large provision of cam- 
phor had been imported, which is employed with a mixture of wax 
to illuminate the palaces of the East. Strangers to the name and 
properties of that odoriferous gum, the Saracens, mistaking it for 
salt, mingled the camphor in their bread, and were astonished at 
the bitterness of the taste. One of the apartments of the palace 
was decorated with a carpet of silk, sixty cubits in length, and as 
many in breadth: a paradise or garden was depictured on the 
ground. The flowers, fruits, and shrubs were imitated by the fig- 
ures of the gold embroidery and the colors of the precious stones, 
and the ample square was encircled by a variegated and verdant 
border. The Arabian general persuaded his soldiers to relinquish 
their claim, in the reasonable hope that the eyes of the caliph would 
be delighted with the splendid workmanship of nature and indus- 
try. Regardless of the merit of art, and the pomp of royalty, the 
rigid Omar divided the prize among his brethren of Medina. The 
picture was destroyed, but such was the intrinsic value of the 
materials that the share of Ali alone was sold for twenty thousand 
drachms. A mule that carried away the tiara and cuirass, the belt 
and bracelets, of Chosroes was overtaken by the pursuers, the gor- 
geous trophy was presented to the commander of the faithful, 
and the gravest of the companions condescended to smile when 
they beheld the white beard, the hairy arms, and uncouth figure of 
the veteran, who was invested with the spoils of the great king. 
The sack of Ctesiphon in 637 was followed by its desertion and 
decay. The Saracens disliked the air and situation, and Omar 
was advised by his general to remove the seat of government 
to the western side of the Euphrates. In every age the founda- 
tion and ruin of the Babylonian cities has been easy and rapid. 
The country is destitute of stone and timber, and the most solid 
structures are composed of bricks baked in the sun and joined by 
a cement of the native bitumen. The name of Cufa describes a 
habitation of reeds and earth, but the importance of the new capi- 
tal was supported by the numbers, wealth, and spirit of a colony 
of veterans; and their licentiousness was indulged by the wisest 
caliphs, who were apprehensive of provoking the revolt of a hun- 
dred thousand swords. " Ye men of Cufa," said Ali, who solicited 
their aid, " you have been always conspicuous by your valcr. You 
conquered the Persian king and scattered his forces, till you had 



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ARABIA 863 

taken possession of his inheritance." This mighty conquest was 
achieved by the battles of Jalula and Nehavend. After the loss 
of the former, Yezdegerd fled from Holwan and concealed his 
shame and despair in the mountains of Farsistan, whence Cyrus 
had descended with his equal and valiant companions. The cour- 
age of the nation survived that of the monarch. Among the hills 
to the south of Ekbatana or Hamadan, 150,000 Persians made a 
third and final stand for their religion and country, and the decisive 
battle of Nehavend in 641 was styled by the Arabs the victory of 
victories. If it be true that the flying general of the Persians was 
stopped and overtaken in a crowd of mules and camels laden with 
honey, the incident, however slight or singular, will denote the 
luxurious impediments of an Oriental army. 

The geography of Persia is darkly delineated by the Greeks 
and Latins, but the most illustrious of her cities seem older than 
the invasion of the Arabs. By the reduction of Hamadan and 
Ispahan, of Caswin, Tauris, and Rei, the Arabs, from 637 to 651, 
gradually approached the Caspian Sea; and the orators of Mecca 
might applaud the success and spirit of the faithful, who had already 
lost sight of the Northern Bear, and had almost transcended the 
bounds of the habitable world. Again, turning toward the West 
and Roman Empire, they repassed the Tigris over the bridge of 
Mosul, and, in the captive provinces of Armenia and Mesopo- 
tamia, embraced their victorious brethren of the Syrian army. 
From the palace of Madayn their eastern progress was not less 
rapid or extensive. They advanced along the Tigris and the Gulf, 
penetrated through the passes of the mountains into the valley of 
Estachar or Persepolis, and profaned the last sanctuary of the 
Magian empire. The grandson of Chosroes was nearly surprised 
among the falling columns and mutilated figures, a sad emblem of 
the past and present fortune of Persia. He fled with accelerated 
haste over the desert of Kerman, implored the aid of the warlike 
Segestans, and sought an humble refuge on the verge of the Turk- 
ish and Chinese power. But a victorious army is insensible of 
fatigue. The Arabs divided their forces in the pursuit of a tim- 
orous enemy, and the Caliph Othman promised the government of 
Khorasan to the first general who should enter that large and 
populous country, the kingdom of the ancient Baktrians. The 
condition was accepted; the prize was deserved; the standard of 
Mohammed was planted on the walls of Herat, Merv, and Balkh; 



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264 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

and the successful leader neither halted nor reposed till his foaming 
cavalry had tasted the waters of the Oxus. In the public anarchy 
the independent governors of the cities and castles obtained their 
separate capitulations. The terms were granted or imposed by 
the esteem, the prudence, or the compassion of the victors, and a 
simple profession of faith established the distinction between a 
brother and a slave. After a noble defense, Harmozan, the prince 
or satrap of Ahwaz and Susa, was compelled to surrender his 
person and his state to the discretion of the caliph, and their inter- 
view exhibits a portrait of the Arabian manners. In the presence, 
and by the command, of Omar, the gay barbarian was despoiled of 
his silken robes embroidered with gold and of his tiara bedecked 
with rubies and emeralds. " Are you now sensible," said the 
conqueror to his naked captive, "are you now sensible of the 
judgment of God, and of the different rewards of infidelity and 
obedience? " " Alas! " replied Harmozan, " I feel them too deeply. 
In the days of our common ignorance, we fought with the weapons 
of the flesh, and my nation was superior. God was then neuter; 
since he has espoused your quarrel, you have subverted our king- 
dom and religion." Oppressed by this painful dialogue, the Per- 
sian complained of intolerable thirst, but expressed some appre- 
hension lest he should be killed while he was drinking a cup of 
water. " Be of good courage," said the caliph ; " your life is safe 
till you have drunk this water." The crafty satrap accepted the 
assurance, and instantly dashed the vase against the ground. 
Omar would have avenged the deceit, but his companions repre- 
sented the sanctity of an oath ; and the speedy conversion of Har- 
mozan entitled him not only to a free pardon, but even to a stipend 
of two thousand pieces of gold. The administration of Persia was 
regulated by an actual survey of the people, the cattle, and the 
fruits of the earth, and this monument, which attests the vigilance 
of the caliphs, might have instructed the philosophers of every age. 
The flight of Yezdegerd in 651 had carried him beyond the 
Oxus, and as far as the Jaxartes, two rivers of great renown, 
which descend from the mountains of India toward the Cas- 
pian Sea. He was hospitably entertained by Tarkhan, Prince of 
Fargana, a fertile province on the Jaxartes; the King of Samar- 
cand, with the Turkish tribes of Sogdiana and Scythia, were moved 
by the lamentations and promises of the fallen monarch, and he 
solicited, by a suppliant embassy, the more solid and powerful 



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ARABIA 265 

friendship of the Emperor of China. The virtuous Taitsung, the 
first of the dynasty of the Tang, may be justly compared with the 
Antonines of Rome. His people enjoyed the blessings of prosperity 
and peace, and his dominion was acknowledged by forty-four 
hordes of the barbarians of Tatary. His last garrisons of Cash- 
gar and Khoten maintained a frequent intercourse with their neigh- 
bors of the Jaxartes and Oxus, a recent colony of Persians had 
introduced into China the astronomy of the Magi, and Taitsung 
might be alarmed by the rapid progress and dangerous vicinity of 
the Arabs. The influence, and perhaps the supplies, of China re- 
vived the hopes of Yezdegerd and the zeal of the worshipers of 
fire, and he returned with an army of Turks to conquer the inherit- 
ance of his fathers. The fortunate Moslems, without unsheathing 
their swords, were the spectators of his ruin and death. The 
grandson of Chosroes was betrayed by his servant, insulted by the 
seditious inhabitants of Merv, and oppressed, defeated, and pur- 
sued by his barbarian allies. He reached the banks of a river and 
offered his rings and bracelets for an instant passage in a miller's 
boat. Ignorant or insensible of royal distress, the rustic replied 
that four drachms of silver were the daily profit of his mill, and that 
he would not suspend his work unless the loss were repaid. In 
this moment of hesitation and delay the last of the Sassanian kings 
was overtaken and slaughtered by the Turkish cavalry, in the nine- 
teenth year of his unhappy reign. His son Firuz, an humble client 
of the Chinese emperor, accepted the station of captain of his 
guards, and the Magian worship was long preserved by a colony 
of loyal exiles in the province of Bucharia. His grandson inherited 
the regal name, but after a faint and fruitless enterprise, he re- 
turned to China, and ended his days in the palace of Sigan. The 
male line of the Sassanides was extinct, but the female captives, 
the daughters of Persia, were given to the conquerors in servitude, 
or marriage, and the race of the caliphs and imams was ennobled 
by the blood of their royal mothers. 

After the fall of the Persian kingdom the River Oxus divided 
the territories of the Saracens and of the Turks. By 710 a. d. this 
boundary had been overleaped by the spirit of the Arabs, the gov- 
ernors of Khorasan extended their successive inroads, and one of 
their triumphs was adorned with the buskin of a Turkish queen, 
which she dropped in her precipitate flight beyond the hills of 
Bochara. But the final conquest of Transoxiana, as well as of 



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266 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

Spain, was reserved for the glorious reign of the inactive Walid; 
and the name of Catibah, the camel driver, declares the origin and 
merit of his successful lieutenant. While one of his colleagues 
displayed the first Mohammedan banner on the banks of the Indus, 
the spacious regions between the Oxus, the Jaxartes, and the Cas- 
pian Sea were reduced by the arms of Catibah to the obedience of 
the Prophet and of the caliph. A tribute of two millions of pieces 
of gold was imposed on the infidels, their idols were burned or 
broken, the Mussulman chief pronounced a sermon in the new 
mosque of Carizme. After several battles, the Turkish hordes were 
driven back to the desert, and the emperors of China solicited the 
friendship of the victorious Arabs. To their industry the prosper- 
ity of the province, the Sogdiana of the ancients, may in a great 
measure be ascribed ; but the advantages of the soil and climate had 
been understood and cultivated since the reign of the Macedonian 
kings. Before the invasion of the Saracens, Carizme, Bochara, and 
Samarcand were rich and populous under the yoke of the shep- 
herds of the north. These cities were surrounded with a double 
wall, and the exterior fortification, of a larger circumference, en- 
closed the fields and gardens of the adjacent district. The mutual 
wants of India and Europe were supplied by the diligence of the 
Sogdian merchants, and the inestimable art of transforming linen 
into paper has been diffused from the manufacture of Samarcand 
over the Western world. 

No sooner had Abu Bekr restored the unity of faith and gov- 
ernment in 632 a. d. than he dispatched a circular letter to the Ara- 
bian tribes. " In the name of the most merciful God, to the rest of 
the true believers. Health and happiness, and the mercy and bless- 
ing of God, be upon you. I praise the most high God, and I pray for 
his Prophet, Mohammed. This is to acquaint you that I intend to 
send the true believers into Syria to take it out of the hands of the 
infidels. And I would have you know, that the fighting for religion 
is an act of obedience to God." His messengers returned with the 
tidings of pious and martial ardor which they had kindled in every 
province, and the camp of Medina was successively filled with the 
intrepid bands of the Saracens, who panted for action, complained 
of the heat of the season and the scarcity of provisions, and ac- 
cused with impatient murmurs the delays of the caliph. As soon 
as their numbers were complete Abu Bekr ascended the hill, re- 
viewed the men, the horses, and the arms, and poured forth a fer- 



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ARABIA 267 

vent prayer for the success of their undertaking. In person, and 
on foot, he accompanied the first day's march ; and when the blush- 
ing leaders attempted to dismount, the caliph removed their 
scruples by a declaration that those who rode and those who walked 
in the service of religion were equally meritorious. His instruc- 
tions to the chiefs of the Syrian army were inspired by the war- 
like fanaticism which advances to seize, and affects to despise, the 
objects of earthly ambition, " Remember/ 1 said the successor of 
the Prophet, " that you are always in the presence of God, on the 
verge of death, in the assurance of judgment, and the hope of para- 
dise. Avoid injustice and oppression, consult with your brethren, 
and study to preserve the love and confidence of your troops. 
When you fight the battles of the Lord acquit yourselves like men, 
without turning your backs ; but let not your victory be stained with 
the blood of women or children. Destroy no palm trees, nor burn 
any fields of corn. Cut down no fruit trees, nor do any mischief 
to cattle, only such as you kill to eat. When you make any cove- 
nant or articles, stand to it, and be as good as your word. As you 
go on, you will find some religious persons who live retired in 
monasteries, and propose to themselves to serve God that way ; let 
them alone, and neither kill them nor destroy their monasteries. 
And you will find another sort of people, that belong to the syna- 
gogue of Satan, who have shaven crowns ; be sure you cleave their 
skulls, and give them no quarter till they either turn Moham- 
medans or pay tribute." All profane or frivolous conversation, all 
dangerous recollection of ancient quarrels, was severely prohibited 
among the Arabs. In the tumult of a camp the exercises of re- 
ligion were assiduously practiced, and the intervals of action were 
employed in prayer, meditation, and the study of the Koran. The 
abuse, or even the use, of wine was chastised by fourscore strokes 
on the soles of the feet, and in the fervor of their primitive zeal 
many secret sinners revealed their fault and solicited their punish- 
ment. After some hesitation the command of the Syrian army 
was delegated to Abu Obaidah, one of the fugitives of Mecca, and 
companions of Mohammed, whose zeal and devotion were as- 
suaged, without being abated, by the singular mildness and benevo- 
lence of his temper. But in all the emergencies of war the soldiers 
demanded the superior genius of Khalid; and whoever might be 
the choice of the prince, the Sword of God was both in fact and 
fame the foremost leader of the Saracens. He obeyed without re- 



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268 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

luctance, he was consulted without jealousy; and such was the spirit 
of the man, or rather of the times, that Khalid professed his readi- 
ness to serve under the banner of the faith, though it were in the 
hands of a child or an enemy. Glory, and riches, and dominion 
were indeed promised to the victorious Mussulman, but he was 
carefully instructed that if the goods of this life were his only in- 
citement, they likewise would be his only reward. 

One of the fifteen provinces of Syria, the cultivated lands to 
the eastward of the Jordan, had been decorated by Roman vanity 
with the name of Arabia ; and the first arms of the Saracens were 
justified by the semblance of a national right. The country was 
enriched by the various benefits of trade; by the vigilance of the 
emperors it was covered with a line of forts; and the populous 
cities of Gerasa, Philadelphia, and Bosra were secure, at least from a 
surprise, by the solid structure of their walls. The last of these cities 
was the eighteenth station from Medina, and the road was familiar to 
the caravans of Hejaz and Irak, which annually visited this plenteous 
market of the province and the desert. The perpetual jealousy of 
the Arabs had trained the inhabitants to arms, and 12,000 horse 
could sally from the gates of Bosra, an appellation which signifies, 
in the Syriac language, a strong tower of defense. Encouraged 
by their first success against the open towns and flying parties of 
the borders, a detachment of 4000 Moslems presumed to summon 
and attack the fortress of Bosra. They were oppressed by the 
numbers of the Syrians ; they were saved by the presence of Khalid, 
with 1500 horse. He blamed the enterprise, restored the battle, 
and rescued his friend, the venerable Serjabil, who had vainly in- 
voked the unity of God and the promises of the Apostle. After 
a short repose the Moslems performed their ablutions with sand 
instead of water, and the morning prayer was recited by Khalid 
before they mounted on horseback. Confident in their strength, 
the people of Bosra threw open their gates, drew their forces into 
the plain, and swore to die in the defense of their religion. But 
a religion of peace was incapable of withstanding the fanatic cry 
of " Fight, fight ! Paradise, paradise ! " that reechoed in the ranks 
of the Saracens ; and the uproar of the town, the ringing of bells, 
and the exclamations of the priests and monks increased the dis- 
may and disorder of the Christians. With the loss of 230 men 
the Arabs remained masters of the field, and the ramparts of 
Bosra, in expectation of human or divine aid, were crowded with 



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ARABIA 869 

holy crosses and consecrated banners. The governor, Romanus, 
had recommended an early submission. Despised by the people, 
and degraded from his office, he still retained the desire and op- 
portunity of revenge. In a nocturnal interview he informed the 
enemy of a subterraneous passage from his house under the wall 
of the city. The son of the caliph, and a hundred volunteers, 
were committed to the faith of this new ally, and their successful 
intrepidity gave an easy entrance to their companions. After 
Khalid had imposed the terms of servitude and tribute, the apostate 
or convert avowed in the assembly of the people his meritorious 
treason. " I renounce your society," said Romanus, " both in this 
world and the world to come. And I deny Him that was crucified, 
and whomsoever worships Him. And I choose God for my Lord, 
Islam for my faith, Mecca for my temple, the Moslems for my 
brethren, and Mohammed for my Prophet; who was sent to lead 
us into the right way, and to exalt the true religion in spite of those 
who join partners with God." 

The conquest of Bosra, four days' journey from Damascus, 
encouraged the Arabs to besiege the ancient capital in 633 a. d. At 
some distance from the walls they encamped among the groves 
and fountains of that delicious territory, and the usual option of the 
Mohammedan faith, of tribute or of war, was proposed to the 
resolute citizens, who had been lately strengthened by a reinforce- 
ment of 5000 Greeks. In the decline, as in the infancy, of the 
military art, a hostile defiance was frequently offered and accepted 
by the generals themselves. Many a lance was shivered in the 
plain of Damascus, and the personal prowess of Khalid was sig- 
nalized in the first sally of the besieged. After an obstinate com- 
bat, he had overthrown and made prisoner one of the Christian 
leaders, a stout and worthy antagonist. He instantly mounted a 
fresh horse, the gift of the governor of Palmyra, and pushed for- 
ward to the front of the battle. " Repose yourself for a moment," 
said his friend Derar ; " and permit me to supply your place ; you 
are fatigued with fighting with this dog." " O Derar ! " replied 
the indefatigable Saracen, " we shall rest in the world to come. 
He that labors to-day shall rest to-morrow." With the same un- 
abated ardor Khalid answered, encountered and vanquished a second 
champion ; and the heads of his two captives, who refused to abandon 
their religion, were indignantly hurled into the midst of the city. 
The event of some general and partial actions reduced the Damas- 



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270 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

cenes to a closer defense, but a messenger, whom they dropped from 
the walls, returned with the promise of speedy and powerful succor, 
and their tumultuous joy conveyed the intelligence to the camp of 
the Arabs. After some debate it was resolved by the generals to 
raise, or rather to suspend, the siege of Damascus till they had 
given battle to the forces of the emperor. In the retreat, Khalid 
would have chosen the more perilous station of the rear-guard; 
he modestly yielded to the wishes of Abu Obaidah. But in the 
hour of danger he flew to the rescue of his companion, who was 
rudely pressed by a sally of 6000 horse and 10,000 foot, and few 
among the Christians could relate at Damascus the circumstances 
of their defeat. The importance of the contest required the junc- 
tion of the Saracens, who were dispersed on the frontiers of Syria 
and Palestine ; and I shall transcribe one of the circular mandates 
which was addressed to Amru, the future conqueror of Egypt. 
" In the name of the most merciful God : from Khalid to Amru, 
health and happiness. Know that thy brethren the Moslems de- 
sign to march to Aiznadin, where there is an army of 70,000 Greeks, 
who purpose to come against us, that they may extinguish the light 
of God with their mouths; but God preserveth his light in spite 
of the infidels. As soon, therefore, as this letter of mine shall be 
delivered to thy hands, come with those that are with thee to Aiz- 
nadin, where thou shalt find us, if it please the most high God." 
The summons was cheerfully obeyed, and the 45,000 Moslems, who 
met on the same day, on the same spot ascribed to the blessing of 
Providence the effects of their activity and zeal. 

About four years after the triumphs of the Persian war the 
repose of Heraclius and the empire was again disturbed by a new 
enemy, the power of whose religion was more strongly felt, than 
it was clearly understood, by the Christians of the East. In his 
palace of Constantinople or Antioch he was awakened by the in- 
vasion of Syria, the loss of Bosra, and the danger of Damascus. 
An army of 70,000 veterans, or new levies, was assembled at Hems 
or Emesa, under the command of his general, Werdan, and these 
troops, consisting chiefly of cavalry, might be indifferently styled 
either Syrians, or Greeks, or Romans; Syrians, from the place of 
their birth or warfare ; Greeks, from the religion and language of 
their sovereign; and Romans, from the proud appellation which 
was still profaned by the successors of Constantine. On the plain 
of Aiznadin, as Werdan rode on a white mule decorated with gold 



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ARABIA 271 

chains and surrounded with ensigns and standards, he was sur- 
prised by the near approach of a fierce and naked warrior, who 
had undertaken to view the state of the enemy. The adventurous 
valor of Derar was inspired, and has perhaps been adorned, by the 
enthusiasm of his age and country. The hatred of the Christians, 
the love of spoil, and the contempt of danger were the ruling pas- 
sions of the audacious Saracen ; and the prospect of instant death 
could never shake his religious confidence or ruffle the calmness of 
his resolution, or even suspend the frank and martial pleasantry 
of his humor. In the most hopeless enterprises he was bold, and 
prudent, and fortunate; after innumerable hazards, after being 
thrice a prisoner in the hands of the infidels, he still survived to re- 
late the achievements, and to enjoy the rewards, of the Syrian 
conquest. On this occasion his single lance maintained a flying 
fight against thirty Romans, who were detached by Werdan ; and, 
after killing or unhorsing seventeen of their number, Derar re- 
turned in safety to his applauding brethren. When his rashness 
was mildly censured by the general, he excused himself with the 
simplicity of a soldier. " Nay," said Derar, " I did not begin first, 
but they came out to take me, and I was afraid that God should 
see me turn my back, and indeed I fought in good earnest, and 
without doubt God assisted me against them; and had I not been 
apprehensive of disobeying your orders, I should not have come 
away as I did; and I perceive already that they will fall into our 
hands." 

In the presence of both armies a veneraole Greek advanced 
from the ranks with a liberal offer of peace; and the departure 
of the Saracens would have been purchased by a gift to each 
soldier of a turban, a robe, and a piece of gold; ten robes and 
a hundred pieces to their leader; one hundred robes and a thou- 
sand pieces to the caliph. A smile of indignation expressed the 
refusal of Khalid. "Ye Christian dogs, you know your option: 
the Koran, the tribute, or the sword. We are a people whose delight 
is in war, rather than in peace; and we despise your pitiful alms, 
since we shall be speedily masters of your wealth, your families, 
and your persons." Notwithstanding this apparent disdain, he 
was deeply conscious of the public danger. Those who had been 
in Persia, and had seen the armies of Chosroes, confessed that 
they never beheld a more formidable array. From the superiority 
of the enemy the artful Saracen derived a fresh incentive of cour- 



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272 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

age. "You see before you," said he, "the united force of the 
Romans ; you cannot hope to escape, but you may conquer Syria in 
a single day. The event depends on your discipline and patience. 
Reserve yourselves till the evening. It was in the evening that the 
Prophet was accustomed to vanquish." During two successive en- 
gagements his temperate firmness sustained the darts of the enemy 
and the murmurs of his troops. At length, when the spirits and 
quivers of the adverse line were almost exhausted, Khalid gave 
the signal of onset and victory. The remains of the imperial army 
fled to Antioch, or Caesarea, or Damascus; and the death of 470 
Moslems was compensated by the opinion that they had sent to hell 
above fifty thousand of the infidels. The spoil was inestimable: 
many banners and crosses of gold and silver, precious stones, silver 
and gold chains, and innumerable suits of the richest armor and 
apparel. The general distribution was postponed till Damascus 
should be taken, but the seasonable supply of arms became the in- 
strument of new victories. The glorious intelligence was trans- 
mitted to the throne of the caliph, and the Arabian tribes, the 
coldest or most hostile to the Prophet's mission, were eager and 
importunate to share the harvest of Syria. 

The sad tidings were carried to Damascus by the speed of 
grief and terror, and the inhabitants beheld from their walls the 
return of the heroes of Aiznadin. Amru led the van at the head 
of 9000 horse. The bands of the Saracens succeeded each other in 
formidable review, and the rear was closed by Khalid in person, 
with the standard of the black eagle. To the activity of Derar he 
intrusted the commission of patrolling round the city with 2000 
horse, of scouring the plain, and of intercepting all succor or 
intelligence. The rest of the Arabian chiefs were fixed in their 
respective stations before the seven gates of Damascus, and the 
siege was renewed with fresh vigor and confidence. The art, the 
labor, the military engines, of the Greeks and Romans are seldom 
to be found in the simple, though successful, operations of the 
Saracens. It was sufficient for them to invest a city with arms, 
rather than with trenches; to repel the sallies of the besieged; to 
attempt a stratagem or an assault; or to expect the progress of 
famine and discontent. Damascus would have acquiesced in the 
trial of Aiznadin, as a final and peremptory sentence between the 
emperor and the caliph ; her courage was rekindled by the example 
and authority of Thomas, a noble Greek, illustrious in a private 



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ARABIA 278 

condition by the alliance of Heraclius. The tumult and illumina- 
tion of the night proclaimed the design of the morning sally ; and 
the Christian hero, who affected to despise the enthusiasm of the 
Arabs, employed the resource of a similar superstition. At the 
principal gate, in the sight of both armies, a lofty crucifix was 
erected; the bishop, with his clergy, accompanied the march, and 
laid the volume of the New Testament before the image of Jesus ; 
and the contending parties were scandalized or edified by a prayer 
that the Son of God would defend his servants and vindicate his 
truth. 

The battle raged with incessant fury; and the dexterity of 
Thomas, an incomparable archer, was fatal to the boldest Saracens, 
till their death was revenged by a heroic woman. The wife of 
Aban, who had followed him to the holy war, embraced her ex- 
piring husband. "Happy," said she, "happy art thou, my dear; 
thou art gone to thy Lord, who first joined us together, and then 
parted us asunder. I will revenge thy death, and endeavor to the 
utmost of my power to come to the place where thou art, because 
I love thee. Henceforth shall no man ever touch me more, for I 
have dedicated myself to the service of God." Without a groan, 
without a tear, she washed the corpse of her husband, and buried 
him with the usual rites. Then grasping the manly weapons, which 
in her native land she was accustomed to wield, the intrepid widow 
of Aban sought the place where his murderer fought in the thickest 
of the battle. Her first arrow pierced the hand of his standard- 
bearer; her second wounded Thomas in the eye; and the fainting 
Christians no longer beheld their ensign or their leader. Yet the 
generous champion of Damascus refused to withdraw to his palace : 
his wound was dressed on the rampart; the fight was continued 
till the evening; and the Syrians rested on their arms. In the 
silence of the night the signal was given by a stroke on the great 
bell ; the gates were thrown open, and each gate discharged an im- 
petuous column on the sleeping camp of the Saracens. Khalid 
was the first in arms. At the head of 400 horse he flew to the post 
of danger, and the tears trickled down his iron cheeks, as he uttered 
a fervent ejaculation : " O God, who never sleepest, look upon thy 
servants, and do not deliver them into the hands of their enemies." 
The valor and victory of Thomas were arrested by the presence 
of the " Sword of God " ; with the knowledge of the peril the Mos- 
lems recovered their ranks and charged the assailants in the flank 



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274 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

and rear. After the loss of thousands, the Christian general re- 
treated with a sigh of despair, and the pursuit of the Saracens was 
checked by the military engines of the rampart. 

After a siege of seventy days the patience, and perhaps the pro- 
visions, of the Damascenes were exhausted; and the bravest of 
their chiefs submitted to the hard dictates of necessity. In the 
occurrences of peace and war they had been taught to dread the 
fierceness of Khalid, and to revere the mild virtues of Abu Obai- 
dah. At the hour of midnight one hundred chosen deputies of the 
clergy and people were introduced to the tent of that venerable 
commander. He received and dismissed them with courtesy. 
They returned with a written agreement, on the faith of a com- 
panion of Mohammed, that all hostilities should cease; that the 
voluntary emigrants might depart in safety, with as much as they 
could carry away of their effects; and that the tributary subjects 
of the caliph should enjoy their lands and houses, with the use and 
possession of seven churches. On these terms, the most respectable 
hostages, and the gate nearest to his camp, were delivered into his 
hands. His soldiers imitated the moderation of their chief, and he 
enjoyed the submissive gratitude of a people whom he had rescued 
from destruction. But the success of the treaty had relaxed their 
vigilance, and in the same moment the opposite quarter of the city 
was betrayed and taken by assault. A party of a hundred Arabs 
had opened the eastern gate to a more inexorable foe. " No quar- 
ter," cried the rapacious and sanguinary Khalid, "no quarter to 
the enemies of the Lord!" His trumpets sounded, and a torrent 
of Christian blood was poured down the streets of Damascus. 
When he reached the Church of St. Mary he was astonished and 
provoked by the peaceful aspect of his companions; their swords 
were in the scabbard, and they were surrounded by a multitude of 
priests and monks. Abu Obaidah saluted the general. "God," 
said he, "has delivered the city into my hands by way of sur- 
render, and has saved the believers the trouble of fighting." " And 
am I not," replied the indignant Khalid, " am I not the lieutenant 
of the commander of the faithful? Have I not taken the city by 
storm ? The unbelievers shall perish by the sword. Fall on." 

The cruel Arabs would have obeyed the welcome command, 
and Damascus was lost if the benevolence of Abu Obaidah had not 
been supported by a decent and dignified firmness. Throwing him- 
self between the trembling citizens and the most eager of the 



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ARABIA 275 

barbarians he adjured them, by the holy name of God, to respect 
his promise, to suspend their fury, and to wait the determination 
of their chiefs. The chiefs retired into the Church of St. Mary, and 
after a vehement debate Khalid submitted in some measure to the 
reason and authority of his colleague ; who urged the sanctity of a 
covenant, the advantage as well as the honor which the Moslems 
would derive from the punctual performance of their word, and 
the obstinate resistance which they must encounter from the dis- 
trust and despair of the rest of the Syrian cities. It was agreed 
that the sword should be sheathed, that the part of Damascus 
which had surrendered to Abu Obaidah should be immediately en- 
titled to the benefit of his capitulation, and that the final decision 
should be referred to the justice and wisdom of the caliph. A 
large majority of the people accepted the terms of toleration and 
tribute, and Damascus is still peopled by twenty thousand 
Christians. But the valiant Thomas and the free-born patriots 
who had fought under his banner embraced the alternative of pov- 
erty and exile. In the adjacent meadow a numerous encampment 
was formed of priests and laymen, of soldiers and citizens, of 
women and children. They collected, with haste and terror, their 
most precious movables, and abandoned, with loud lamentations or 
silent anguish, their native homes and the pleasant banks of the 
Pharpar. The inflexible soul of Khalid was not touched by the 
spectacle of their distress: he disputed with the Damascenes the 
property of a magazine of corn; endeavored to exclude the garri- 
son from the benefit of the treaty ; consented, with reluctance, that 
each of the fugitives should arm himself with a sword, or a lance, 
or a bow; and sternly declared that after a respite of three days 
they might be pursued and treated as the enemies of the Moslems. 
The passion of a Syrian youth completed the ruin of the exiles 
of Damascus. A nobleman of the city, of the name of Jonas, was 
betrothed to a wealthy maiden; but her parents delayed the con- 
summation of his nuptials, and their daughter was persuaded to 
escape with the man whom she had chosen. They corrupted the 
nightly watchmen of the gate Keisan ; the lover, who led the way, 
was encompassed by a squadron of Arabs; but his exclamation in 
the Greek tongue, " The bird is taken," admonished his mistress to 
hasten her return. In the presence of Khalid, and of death, the 
unfortunate Jonas professed his belief in one God and his Apostle 
Mohammed and continued, till the season of his martyrdom, to 



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876 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

discharge the duties of a brave and sincere Mussulman. When the 
city was taken he flew to the monastery where Eudocia had taken 
refuge ; but the lover was forgotten ; the apostate was scorned ; she 
preferred her religion to her country; and the justice of Khalid, 
though deaf to mercy, refused to detain by force a male or female 
inhabitant of Damascus. Four days was the general confined to 
the city by the obligation of the treaty, and the urgent cares of his 
new conquest His appetite for blood and rapine would have been 
extinguished by the hopeless computation of time and distance, but 
he listened to the importunities of Jonas, who assured him that the 
weary fugitives might yet be overtaken. At the head of four 
thousand horse, in the disguise of Christian Arabs, Khalid under- 
took the pursuit. They halted only for the moments of prayer; 
and their guide had a perfect knowledge of the country. For a 
long way the footsteps of the Damascenes were plain and conspicu- 
ous. They vanished on a sudden, but the Saracens were comforted 
by the assurance that the caravan had turned aside into the moun- 
tains and must speedily fall into their hands. In traversing the 
ridges of the Libanus they endured intolerable hardships, and the 
sinking spirits of the veteran fanatics were supported and cheered 
by the unconquerable ardor of a lover. From a peasant of the 
country they were informed that the emperor had sent orders to 
the colony of exiles to pursue without delay the road of the sea- 
coast, and of Constantinople, apprehensive, perhaps, that the 
soldiers and people of Antioch might be discouraged by the sight 
and the story of their sufferings. The Saracens were conducted 
through the territories of Gabala and Laodicea, at a cautious dis- 
tance from the walls of the cities ; the rain was incessant, the night 
was dark, a single mountain separated them from the Roman army; 
and Khalid, ever anxious for the safety of his brethren, whispered 
an ominous dream in the ear of his companion. With the dawn of 
day the prospect again cleared, and they saw before them, in a 
pleasant valley, the tents of Damascus. After a short interval of 
repose and prayer, Khalid divided his cavalry into four squadrons, 
committing the first to his faithful Derar, and reserving the last 
for himself. They successively rushed on the promiscuous multi- 
tude, insufficiently provided with arms, and already vanquished by 
sorrow and fatigue. Except a captive, who was pardoned and dis- 
missed, the Arabs enjoyed the satisfaction of believing that not a 
Christian of either sex escaped the edge of their scimiters. The gold 



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ARABIA 277 

and silver of Damascus was scattered over the camp, and a royal 
wardrobe of three hundred loads of silk might clothe an army of 
naked barbarians. In the tumult of the battle Jonas sought and 
found the object of his pursuit ; but her resentment was inflamed by 
the last act of his perfidy, and as Eudocia struggled in his hateful 
embraces she struck a dagger to her heart. Another female, the 
widow of Thomas, and the real or supposed daughter of Heraclius, 
was spared and released without a ransom; but the generosity of 
Khalid was the effect of his contempt, and the haughty Saracen 
insulted, by a message of defiance, the throne of the Caesars. 
Khalid had penetrated above a hundred and fifty miles into the 
heart of the Roman province; he returned to Damascus with the 
same secrecy and speed. On the accession of Omar the " Sword of 
God " was removed from the command, but the caliph, who blamed 
the rashness, was compelled to applaud the vigor and conduct, of 
the enterprise. 

Another expedition of the conquerors of Damascus will 
equally display their avidity and their contempt for the riches of 
the present world. They were informed that the produce and 
manufactures of the country were annually collected in the fair of 
Abyla, about thirty miles from the city; that the cell of a devout 
hermit was visited at the same time by a multitude of pilgrims; and 
that the festival of trade and superstition would be ennobled by 
the nuptials of the daughter of the governor of Tripoli. Abdallah. 
the son of Jaafar, a glorious and holy martyr, undertook, with a 
banner of 500 horse, the pious and profitable commission of despoil- 
ing the infidels. As he approached the fair of Abyla he was aston- 
ished by the report of the mighty concourse of Jews and Christians, 
Greeks and Armenians, of natives of Syria and of strangers of 
Egypt, to the number of 10,000, besides a guard of 5000 horse that 
attended the person of the bride. The Saracens paused. " For my 
own part," said Abdallah, " I dare not go back, our foes are many, 
our danger is great, but our reward is splendid and secure, either 
in this life or in the life to come. Let every man, according to his 
inclination, advance or retire." Not a Mussulman deserted his 
standard. " Lead the way," said Abdallah to his Christian guide, 
" and you shall see what the companions of the Prophet can per- 
form." They charged in five squadrons; but after the first ad- 
vantage of the surprise they were encompassed and almost 
overwhelmed by the multitude of their enemies; and their valiant 



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J78 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

band is fancifully compared to a white spot in the skin of a black 
camel. About the hour of sunset, when their weapons dropped 
from their hands, when they panted on the verge of eternity, they 
discovered an approaching cloud of dust, they heard the welcome 
sound of the tecbir, and they soon perceived the standard of Khalid, 
who flew to their relief with the utmost speed of his cavalry. The 
Christians were broken by his attack, and slaughtered in their 
flight, as far as the river of Tripoli. They left behind them the 
various riches of the fair, the merchandises that were exposed for 
sale, the money that was brought for purchase, the gay decora- 
tions of the nuptials, and the governor's daughter, with forty of 
her female attendants. The fruits, provisions, and furniture, the 
money, plate, and jewels, were diligently laden on the backs of 
horses, asses, and mules, and the holy robbers returned in triumph 
to Damascus. The hermit, after a short and angry controversy 
with Khalid, declined the crown of martyrdom, and was left alive 
in the solitary scene of blood and devastation. 

Syria, one of the countries that have been improved by the 
most early cultivation, is not unworthy of the preference. The heat 
of the climate was tempered by the vicinity of the sea and moun- 
tains, by the abundance of wood and water; and the produce of a 
fertile soil affords the subsistence, and encourages the propagation, 
of men and animals. From the age of David to that of Heraclius 
the country was overspread with ancient and flourishing cities ; the 
inhabitants were numerous and wealthy ; and, after the slow ravages 
of despotism and superstition, after the recent calamities of the 
Persian war, Syria could still attract and reward the rapacious 
tribes of the desert. A plain, of ten days' journey from Damascus 
to Aleppo and Antioch, is watered on the western side by the wind- 
ing course of the Orontes. The hills of Libanus and Anti-Libanus 
are planted from north to south, between the Orontes and the 
Mediterranean; and the epithet of " hollow " (Coele Syria) was ap- 
plied to a long and fruitful valley which is confined in the same direc- 
tion by the two ridges of snowy mountains. Among the cities which 
are enumerated by Greek and Oriental names in the geography and 
conquest of Syria, we may distinguish Emesa or Hems, Heliopolis 
or Baalbec, the former as the metropolis of the plain, the latter as 
the capital of the valley. Under the last of the Caesars they were 
strong and populous; the turrets glittered from afar; an ample 
space was covered with public and private buildings ; and the citi- 



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ARABIA £79 

zens were illustrious by their spirit, or at least by their pride ; by 
their riches, or at least by their luxury. In the days of paganism 
both Emesa and Heliopolis were addicted to the worship of Baal, 
or the sun; but the decline of their superstition and splendor has 
been marked by a singular variety of fortune. Not a vestige re- 
mains of the temple of Emesa, which was equaled in poetic style 
to the summits of Mount Libanus, while the ruins of Baalbec, 
invisible to the writers of antiquity, excite the curiosity and won- 
der of the European traveler. The measure of the temple is two 
hundred feet in length, and one hundred in breadth; the front is 
adorned with a double portico of eight columns ; fourteen may be 
counted on either side : and each column, forty-five feet in height, 
is composed of three massy blocks of stone or marble. The pro- 
portions and ornaments of the Corinthian order express the archi- 
tecture of the Greeks, but as Baalbec has never been the seat of a 
monarch, we are at a loss to conceive how the expense of these 
magnificent structures could be supplied by private or municipal 
liberality. From the conquest of Damascus the Saracens proceeded 
in 635 to Heliopolis and Emesa, but it is needless to describe the 
sallies and combats which have been already shown on a larger 
scale. In the prosecution of the war their policy was not less 
effectual than their sword. By short and separate truces they 
dissolved the union of the enemy ; accustomed the Syrians to com- 
pare their friendship with their enmity; familiarized the idea of 
their language, religion, and manners; and exhausted, by clan- 
destine purchase, the magazines and arsenals of the cities which 
they returned to besiege. They aggravated the ransom of the more 
wealthy, or the more obstinate ; and Chalcis alone was taxed at five 
thousand ounces of gold, five thousand ounces of silver, two thou- 
sand robes of silk, and as many figs and olives as would load five 
thousand asses. But the terms of truce or capitulation were faith- 
fully observed ; and the lieutenant of the caliph, who had promised 
not to enter the walls of the captive Baalbec, remained tranquil and 
immovable in his tent till the jarring factions solicited the interpo- 
sition of a foreign master. The conquest of the plain and valley 
of Syria was achieved in less than two years. Yet the commander 
of the faithful reproved the slowness of their progress; and the 
Saracens, bewailing their fault with tears of rage and repentance, 
called aloud on their chiefs to lead them forth to fight the battles 
of the Lord. In an engagement under the walls of Emesa, an 



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280 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

Arabian youth, the cousin of Khalid, was heard to exclaim aloud, 
"Methinks I see the black-eyed girls looking upon me; one of 
whom, should she appear in this world, all mankind would die for 
love of her. And I see in the hand of one of them a handkerchief 
of green silk, and a cap of precious stones, and she beckons me, 
and calls out, Come hither quickly, for I love thee." With these 
words, charging the Christians, he made havoc wherever he went, 
till, observed at length by the governor of Emesa, he was struck 
through with a javelin. 

It was incumbent on the Saracens to exert the full powers of 
their valor and enthusiasm against the forces of the emperor, who 
was taught, by repeated losses, that the rovers of the desert had 
undertaken, and would speedily achieve, a regular and permanent 
conquest. From the provinces of Europe and Asia fourscore thou- 
sand soldiers were transported by sea and land to Antioch and 
Csesarea : the light troops of the army consisted of 60,000 Christian 
Arabs of the tribe of Ghassan. Under the banner of Jabalah, the 
last of their princes, they marched in the van ; and it was a maxim 
of the Greeks, that for the purpose of cutting diamond, a diamond 
was the most effectual. Heraclius withheld his person from the 
dangers of the field, but his presumption, or perhaps his despond- 
ency, suggested a peremptory order, that the fate of the province 
and the war should be decided by a single battle. The Syrians were 
attached to the standard of Rome and of the cross; but the noble> 
the citizen, the peasant, were exasperated by the injustice and 
cruelty of a licentious host, who oppressed them as subjects, and 
despised them as strangers and aliens. A report of these mighty 
preparations was conveyed to the Saracens in their camp at Emesa ; 
and the chiefs, though resolved to fight, assembled a council; the 
faith of Abu Obaidah would have expected on the same spot the 
glory of martyrdom; the wisdom of Khalid advised an honorable 
retreat to the skirts of Palestine and Arabia, where they might 
await the succors of their friends, and the attack of the unbelievers. 
A speedy messenger soon returned from the throne of Medina, 
with the blessings of Omar and AH, the prayers of the widows of 
the Prophet, and a reinforcement of 8000 Moslems. On their way 
they overturned a detachment of Greeks, and when at Yermuk they 
joined the camp of their brethren they found the pleasing intelli- 
gence that Khalid had already defeated and scattered the Christian 
Arabs of the tribe of Ghassan. In the neighborhood of Bosra the 



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ARABIA 281 

springs of Mount Hermon descend in a torrent to the plain of De- 
capolis, or ten cities; and the Hieromax, a name which has been 
corrupted to Yermuk, is lost, after a short course, in the Lake of 
Tiberias. The banks of this obscure stream were made famous by a 
long and bloody encounter. On this momentous occasion the pub- 
lic voice, and the modesty of Abu Obaidah, restored the command in 
November, 636, to the most deserving of the Moslems. Khalid 
assumed his station in the front, his colleague was posted in the rear, 
that the disorder of the fugitives might be checked by his venerable 
aspect, and the sight of the yellow banner which Mohammed had 
displayed before the walls of Khaibar. The last line was occupied 
by the sister of Derar, with the Arabian women who had enlisted in 
this holy war, who were accustomed to wield the bow and the lance, 
and who in a moment of captivity had defended, against the uncir- 
cumcised ravishers, their chastity and religion. The exhortation of 
the generals was brief and forcible. " Paradise is before you, the 
devil and hell-fire in your rear." Yet such was the weight of the 
Roman cavalry that the right wing of the Arabs was broken and 
separated from the main body. Thrice did they retreat in disorder, 
and thrice were they driven back to the charge by the reproaches and 
blows of the women. In the intervals of action Abu Obaidah vis- 
ited the tents of his brethren, prolonged their repose by repeating 
at once the prayers of two different hours, bound up their wounds 
with his own hands, and administered the comfortable reflection 
that the infidels partook of their sufferings without partaking of 
their reward. 

Four thousand and thirty of the Moslems were buried in the 
field of battle ; and the skill of the Armenian archers enabled 700 
to boast that they had lost an eye in that meritorious serv- 
ice. The veterans of the Syrian war acknowledged that it was 
the hardest and most doubtful of the days which they had seen. 
But it was likewise the most decisive: many thousands of the 
Greeks and Syrians fell by the swords of the Arabs; many were 
slaughtered, after the defeat, in the woods and mountains; many, 
by mistaking the ford, were drowned in the waters of the Yermuk ; 
and however the loss may be magnified, the Christian writers con- 
fess and bewail the bloody punishment of their sins. Manuel, the 
Roman general, was either killed at Damascus or took refuge in 
the monastery of Mount Sinai. An exile in the Byzantine court, 
Jabalah lamented the manners of Arabia, and his unlucky prefer- 



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288 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

ence of the Christian cause. He had once inclined to the profession 
of Islam ; but in the pilgrimage of Mecca Jabalah was provoked to 
strike one of his brethren, and fled with amazement from the stem 
and equal justice of the caliph. These victorious Saracens enjoyed 
at Damascus a month of pleasure and repose : the spoil was divided 
by the discretion of Abu Obaidah : an equal share was allotted to a 
soldier and to his horse, and a double portion was reserved for the 
noble coursers of the Arabian breed. 

After the battle of Yermuk the Roman army no longer ap- 
peared in the field ; and the Saracens might securely choose, among 
the fortified towns of Syria, the first object of their attack. They 
consulted the caliph whether they should march to Caesarea or 
Jerusalem; and the advice of AH determined the immediate siege 
of the latter. To a profane eye Jerusalem was the first or second 
capital of Palestine; but after Mecca and Medina it was revered 
and visited by the devout Moslems, as the temple of the Holy Land 
which had been sanctified by the revelation of Moses, of Jesus, and 
of Mohammed himself. In 637 the son of Abu Sufyan led 5000 
Arabs to try the first experiment of surprise or treaty; but on 
the eleventh day the town was invested by the whole force of 
Abu Obaidah. He addressed the customary summons to the chief 
commanders and people of iElia. 

"Health and happiness to everyone that follows the right 
way! We require of you to testify that there is but one God, and 
that Mohammed is his Apostle. If you refuse this, consent to pay 
tribute, and be under us forthwith. Otherwise I shall bring men 
against you who love death better than you do the drinking of wine 
or eating hog's flesh. Nor will I ever stir from you, if it please 
God, till I have destroyed those that fight for you, and made slaves 
of your children." But the city was defended on every side by 
deep valleys and steep ascents ; since the invasion of Syria the walls 
and towers had been anxiously restored; the bravest of the fugi- 
tives of Yermuk had stopped in the nearest place of refuge ; and in 
the defense of the sepulcher of Christ the natives and strangers 
might feel some sparks of the enthusiasm which so fiercely glowed 
in the bosoms of the Saracens. The siege of Jerusalem lasted four 
months ; not a day was lost without some action of sally or assault ; 
the military engines incessantly played from the ramparts ; and the 
inclemency of the winter was still more painful and destructive to 
the Arabs. The Christians yielded at length to the perseverance 



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ARABIA *83 

of the besiegers. The patriarch Sophronius appeared on the walls, 
and by the voice of an interpreter demanded a conference. After 
a vain attempt to dissuade the lieutenant of the caliph from his 
impious enterprise, he proposed, in the name of the people, a fair 
capitulation, with this extraordinary clause, that the articles of 
security should be ratified by the authority and presence of Omar 
himself. The question was debated in the council of Medina; the 
sanctity of the place, and the advice of AH, persuaded the caliph 
to gratify the wishes of his soldiers and enemies ; and the simplicity 
of his journey is more illustrious than the royal pageants of vanity 
and oppression. The conqueror of Persia and Syria was mounted 
on a red camel, which carried, besides his person, a bag of corn, a 
bag of dates, a wooden dish, and a leathern bottle of water. 
Wherever he halted, the company, without distinction, was invited 
to partake of his homely fare, and the repast was consecrated by 
the prayer and exhortation of the commander of the faithful. But 
in this expedition or pilgrimage his power was exercised in the 
administration of justice: he reformed the licentious polygamy of 
the Arabs, relieved the tributaries from extortion and cruelty, and 
chastised the luxury of the Saracens, by despoiling them of their 
rich silks, and dragging them on their faces in the dirt. When 
he came within sight of Jerusalem the caliph cried with a loud 
voice, "God is victorious. O Lord, give us an easy conquest!" 
and, pitching his tent of coarse hair, calmly seated himself on the 
ground. After signing the capitulation, he entered the city without 
fear or precaution; and courteously discoursed with the patriarch 
concerning its religious antiquities. Sophronius bowed before his 
new master, and secretly muttered, in the words of Daniel, " The 
abomination of desolation is in the holy place/' At the hour of 
prayer they stood together in the Church of the Resurrection ; but 
the caliph refused to perform his devotions, and contented himself 
with praying on the steps of the Church of Constantine. To the 
patriarch he disclosed his prudent and honorable motive. " Had 
I yielded," said Omar, " to your request, the Moslems of a future 
age would have infringed the treaty under color of imitating my 
example." By his command the ground of the temple of Solomon 
was prepared for the foundation of a mosque; and during a resi- 
dence of ten days he regulated the present and future state of his 
Syrian conquests. Medina might be jealous lest the caliph should 
be detained by the sanctity of Jerusalem or the beauty of Damascus ; 



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884 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

her apprehensions were dispelled by his prompt and voluntary 
return to the tomb of the Apostle. 

To achieve what yet remained of the Syrian war the caliph 
in 638 had formed two separate armies ; a detachment, under Amru 
and Yezid, was left in the camp of Palestine; while the larger 
division, under the standard of Abu Obaidah and Khalid, marched 
away to the north against Antioch and Aleppo. The latter of these, 
the Baraea of the Greeks, was not yet illustrious as the capital of 
a province or a kingdom ; and the inhabitants, by anticipating their 
submission and pleading their poverty, obtained a moderate com- 
position for their lives and religion. But the castle of Aleppo, 
distinct from the city, stood erect on a lofty artificial mound: the 
sides were sharpened to a precipice, and faced with freestone ; and 
the breadth of the ditch might be filled with water from the neigh- 
boring springs. After the loss of 3000 men the garrison was still 
equal to the defense; and Youkinna, their valiant and hereditary 
chief, had murdered his brother, a holy monk, for daring to pro- 
nounce the name of peace. In a siege of four or five months, the 
hardest of the Syrian war, great numbers of the Saracens were 
killed and wounded : their removal to the distance of a mile could 
not seduce the vigilance of Youkinna; nor could the Christians be 
terrified by the execution of three hundred captives who were 
beheaded before the castle wall. The silence, and at length the 
complaints, of Abu Obaidah informed the caliph that their hope 
and patience were consumed at the foot of this impregnable fortress. 
" I am variously affected," replied Omar, " by the difference of 
your success; but I charge you by no means to raise the siege of 
the castle. Your retreat would diminish the reputation of our arms, 
and encourage the infidels to fall upon you on all sides. Remain 
before Aleppo till God shall determine the event, and forage with 
your horse round the adjacent country." The exhortation of the 
commander of the faithful was fortified by a supply of volunteers 
from all the tribes of Arabia, who arrived in the camp on horses 
or camels. Among these was Dames, of servile birth, but of 
gigantic size and intrepid resolution. The forty-seventh day of his 
service he proposed, with only thirty men, to make an attempt on 
the castle. The experience and testimony of Khalid recommended 
his offer ; and Abu Obaidah admonished his brethren not to despise 
the baser origin of Dames, since he himself, could he relinquish 
the public care, would cheerfully serve under the banner of the 



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ARABIA 886 

slave. His design was covered by the appearance of a retreat ; and 
the camp of the Saracens was pitched about a league from Aleppo. 
The thirty adventurers lay in ambush at the foot of the hill; and 
Dames at length succeeded in his inquiries, though he was pro- 
voked by the ignorance of his Greek captives. " God curse these 
dogs," said the illiterate Arab; "what a strange barbarous lan- 
guage they speak ! " At the darkest hour of the night he scaled 
the most accessible height, which he had diligently surveyed, a 
place where the stones were less entire, or the slope less perpendicu- 
lar, or the guard less vigilant. Seven of the stoutest Saracens 
mounted on each other's shoulders, and the weight of the column 
was sustained on the broad and sinewy back of the gigantic slave. 
The foremost in this painful ascent could grasp and climb the low- 
est part of the battlements ; they silently stabbed and cast down the 
sentinels; and the thirty brethren, repeating a pious ejaculation, 
" O Apostle of God, help and deliver us ! " were successively drawn 
up by the long folds of their turbans. With bold and cautious foot- 
steps Dames explored the palace of the governor, who celebrated, 
in riotous merriment, the festival of his deliverance. Thence, 
returning to his companions, he assaulted on the inside the entrance 
of the castle. They overpowered the guard, unbolted the gate, let 
down the drawbridge, and defended the narrow pass, till the arrival 
of Khalid, with the dawn of day, relieved their danger and assured 
their conquest Youkinna, a formidable foe, became an active and 
useful proselyte; and the general of the Saracens expressed his 
regard for the most humble merit, by detaining the army at Aleppo 
till Dames was cured of his honorable wounds. The capital of 
Syria was still covered by the castle of Aazaz and the iron bridge 
of the Orontes. After the loss of those important posts, and the 
defeat of the last of the Roman armies, the luxury of Antioch 
trembled and obeyed. Her safety was ransomed with three hun- 
dred thousand pieces of gold; but the throne of the successors of 
Alexander, the seat of the Roman government in the East, which 
had been decorated by Caesar with the titles of free, and holy, and 
inviolate, was degraded under the yoke of the caliphs to the sec- 
ondary rank of a provincial town. 

In the life of Heraclius the glories of the Persian war are 
clouded on either hand by the disgrace and weakness of his more 
early and his later days. When the successors of Mohammed 
unsheathed the sword of war and religion he was astonished at 



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286 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

the boundless prospect of toil and danger ; his nature was indolent, 
nor could the infirm and frigid age of the emperor be kindled to a 
second effort. The sense of shame, and the importunities of the 
Syrians, prevented his hasty departure from the scene of action; 
but the hero was no more ; and the loss of Damascus and Jerusalem, 
the bloody fields of Aiznadin and Yermuk, may be imputed in some 
degree to the absence or misconduct of the sovereign. Instead of 
defending the sepulcher of Christ, he involved the church and state 
in a metaphysical controversy for the unity of his will ; and while 
Heraclius crowned the offspring of his second nuptials, he was 
tamely stripped of the most valuable part of their inheritance. In 
the cathedral of Antioch, in the presence of the bishops, at the 
foot of the crucifix, he bewailed the sins of the prince and people ; 
but his confession instructed the world that it was vain, and per- 
haps impious, to resist the judgment of God. The Saracens were 
invincible in fact, since they were invincible in opinion; and the 
desertion of Youkinna, his false repentance and repeated perfidy, 
might justify the suspicion of the emperor, that he was encom- 
passed by traitors and apostates, who conspired to betray his person 
and their country to the enemies of Christ. In the hour of adver- 
sity his superstition was agitated by the omens and dreams of a 
falling crown; and bidding eternal farewell to Syria, in 638 he 
secretly embarked with a few attendants, and absolved the faith of 
his subjects. Constantine, his eldest son, had been stationed with 
40,000 men at Caesarea, the civil metropolis of the three provinces 
of Palestine. But his private interest recalled him to the Byzantine 
court, and after the flight of his father he felt himself an unequal 
champion to the united force of the caliph. His vanguard was 
boldly attacked by 300 Arabs and 1000 black slaves, who in the 
depth of winter had climbed the snowy mountains of Libanus, and 
who were speedily followed by the victorious squadrons of Khalid 
himself. From the north and south the troops of Antioch and Jeru- 
salem advanced along the seashore till her banners were joined 
under the walls of the Phoenician cities: Tripoli and Tyre were 
betrayed ; and a fleet of fifty transports, which entered without dis- 
trust the captive harbors, brought a seasonable supply of arms and 
provisions to the camp of the Saracens. Their labors were termi- 
nated by the unexpected surrender of Caesarea: the Roman prince 
had embarked in the night, and the defenseless citizens solicited 
their pardon with an offering of two hundred thousand pieces of 



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ARABIA 287 

gold. The remainder of the province, Ramlah, Ptolemais or Acre, 
Sichem or Neapolis, Gaza, Askalon, Berytos, Sidon, Gabala, Laod- 
ikeia, Apamea, Hierapolis, no longer presumed to dispute the will 
of the conqueror ; and Syria bowed under the scepter of the caliphs 
seven hundred years after Pompey had despoiled the last of the 
Macedonian kings. 

The conduct of the six campaigns, from 633 to 639, had con- 
sumed many thousands of the Moslems. They died with the reputa- 
tion and the cheerfulness of martyrs, and the simplicity of their faith 
may be expressed in the words of an Arabian youth, when he em- 
braced, for the last time, his sister and mother. " It is not," said he, 
" the delicacies of Syria, or the fading delights of this world, that 
have prompted me to devote my life in the cause of religion. But I 
seek the favor of God and his Apostle ; and I have heard, from one of 
the companions of the Prophet, that the spirits of the martyrs will 
be lodged in the crops of green birds, who shall taste the fruits, 
and drink of the rivers, of Paradise. Farewell, we shall meet again 
among the groves and fountains which God has provided for his 
elect." The faithful captives might exercise a passive and more 
arduous resolution; and a cousin of Mohammed is celebrated for 
refusing, after an abstinence of three days, the wine and pork, the 
only nourishment that was allowed by the malice of the infidels. 
The frailty of some weaker brethren exasperated the implacable 
spirit of fanaticism; and the father of Amer deplored, in pathetic 
strains, the apostasy and damnation of a son, who had renounced 
the promises of God, and the intercession of the Prophet, to occupy, 
with the priests and deacons, the lowest mansions of hell. The more 
fortunate Arabs who survived the war and persevered in the faith 
were restrained by their abstemious leader from the abuse of pros- 
perity. After a refreshment of three days Abu Obaidah withdrew 
his troops from the pernicious contagion of the luxury of Antioch, 
and assured the caliph that their religion and virtue could only be 
preserved by the hard discipline of poverty and labor. But the 
virtue of Omar, however rigorous to himself, was kind and liberal 
to his brethren. After a just tribute of praise and thanksgiving, 
he dropped a tear of compassion ; and sitting down on the ground, 
wrote an answer, in which he mildly censured the severity of his 
lieutenant. " God," said the successor of the Prophet, " has not 
forbidden the use of the good things of this world to faithful men, 
and such as have performed good works. Therefore you ought to 



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5888 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

have given them leave to rest themselves, and partake freely of 
those good things which the country affordeth. If any of the 
Saracens have no family in Arabia, they may marry in Syria ; and 
whosoever of them wants any female slaves, he may purchase as 
many as he hath occasion for." The conquerors prepared to use, 
or to abuse, this gracious permission ; but the year of their triumph 
was marked by a mortality of men and cattle ; and 25,000 Saracens 
were snatched away from the possession of Syria. The death of 
Abu Obaidah might be lamented by the Christians ; but his brethren 
recollected that he was one of the ten elect whom the Prophet had 
named as the heirs of paradise. Khalid survived his brethren about 
three years, and the tomb of the Sword of God is shown in the 
neighborhood of Emesa. His valor, which founded in Arabia and 
Syria the empire of the caliphs, was fortified by the opinion of a 
special providence; and as long as he wore a cap, which had been 
blessed by Mohammed, he deemed himself invulnerable amid the 
darts of the infidels. 

The place of the first conquerors was supplied by a new gen- 
eration, and in the years from 639 to 655, Syria became the seat 
and support of the house of Omayyah, and the revenue, the sol- 
diers, the ships, of that powerful kingdom were consecrated to 
enlarge on every side the empire of the caliphs. But the Saracens 
despise a superfluity of fame, and their historians scarcely conde- 
scend to mention the subordinate conquests which are lost in the 
splendor and rapidity of their victorious career. To the north of 
Syria they passed Mount Taurus, and reduced to their obedience 
the province of Cilicia, with its capital Tarsus,, the ancient monu- 
ment of the Assyrian kings. Beyond a second ridge of the same 
mountains they spread the flame of war, rather than the light of 
religion, as far as the shores of the Euxine and the neighborhood 
of Constantinople. To the east they advanced to the banks and 
sources of the Euphrates and Tigris: the long-disputed barrier of 
Rome and Persia was forever confounded ; the walls of Edessa and 
Amida, of Dara and Nisibis, which had resisted the arms and 
engines of Sapor or Nushirvan, were leveled in the dust; and the 
holy city of Abgarus might vainly produce the epistle or the image 
of Christ to an unbelieving conqueror. To the west the Syrian 
kingdom is bounded by the sea, and the ruin of Aradus, a small 
island or peninsula on the coast, was postponed during ten years. 
But the hills of Libanus abounded in timber, the trade of Phoenicia 



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ARABIA £89 

was populous in mariners, and a fleet of seventeen hundred barks 
was equipped and manned by the natives of the desert. The 
imperial navy of the Romans fled before them from the Pamphylian 
rocks to the Hellespont, but the spirit of the emperor, a grandson 
of Heraclius, had been subdued before the combat by a dream and 
a pun. The Saracens rode masters of the sea, and the islands of 
Cyprus, Rhodes, and the Cyclades were successively exposed to 
their rapacious visits. Three hundred years before the Christian 
era the memorable though fruitless siege of Rhodes by Demetrius 
had furnished that maritime republic with the materials and the 
subject of a trophy. A gigantic statue of Apollo, or the sun, sev- 
enty cubits in height, was erected at the entrance of the harbor, a 
monument of the freedom and the arts of Greece. After standing 
fifty-six years the Colossus of Rhodes was overthrown by an earth- 
quake ; but the massy trunk and huge fragments lay scattered eight 
centuries on the ground, and are often described as one of the 
wonders of the ancient world. They were collected by the dili- 
gence of the Saracens, and sold to a Jewish merchant of Edessa, who 
is said to have laden nine hundred camels with the weight of the 
brass metal; an enormous weight, though we should include the 
hundred colossal figures and the three thousand statues which 
adorned the prosperity of the city of the sun. 



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Chapter VII 

THE SARACENS IN EGYPT AND AFRICA 

THE conquest of Egypt in 639 may be explained by the 
character of the victorious Saracen, one of the first of his 
nation, in an age when even the meanest was exalted 
above his nature by the spirit of enthusiasm. The birth of Amru 
was at once base and illustrious ; his mother, a notorious prostitute, 
was unable to decide his paternity among five of the Koreish ; but 
the proof of resemblance adjudged the child to Aasi. The youth 
of Amru was impelled by the passions and prejudices of his kindred : 
his poetic genius was exercised in satirical verses against the per- 
son and doctrine of Mohammed; his dexterity was employed by 
the reigning faction to pursue the religious exiles who had taken 
refuge in the court of the Ethiopian king. Yet he returned from 
his embassy a secret proselyte; his reason or his interest deter- 
mined him to renounce the worship of idols; he escaped from 
Mecca with his friend Khalid; and the Prophet of Medina en- 
joyed at the same moment the satisfaction of embracing the two 
firmest champions of his cause. The impatience of Amru to lead 
the armies of the faithful was checked by the reproof of Omar, 
who advised him not to seek power and dominion, since he who is 
a subject to-day may be a prince to-morrow. Yet his merit was 
not overlooked by the two first successors of Mohammed; they 
were indebted to his arms for the conquest of Palestine, and in all 
the battles and sieges of Syria he united with the temper of a chief 
the valor of an adventurous soldier. In a visit to Medina the 
caliph expressed a wish to survey the sword which had cut down 
so many Christian warriors; the son of Aasi unsheathed a short 
and ordinary scimiter, and as he perceived the surprise of Omar, 
" Alas," said the modest Saracen, " the sword itself, without the arm 
of its master, is neither sharper nor more weighty than the sword of 
Pharezdak the poet." After the conquest of Egypt he was recalled 
by the jealousy of the Caliph Othman ; but in the subsequent troubles 
the ambition of a soldier, a statesman, and an orator emerged from 

990 



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ARABIA 891 

a private station. His powerful support, both in council and in the 
field, established the throne of the Omayyads; the administration 
and revenue of Egypt were restored by the gratitude of Moawiyah 
to a faithful friend who had raised himself above the rank of a 
subject; and Amru ended his days in the palace and city which 
he had founded on the banks of the Nile. His dying speech to his 
children is celebrated by the Arabians as a model of eloquence and 
wisdom: he deplored the errors of his youth, but if the penitent 
was still infected by the vanity of a poet, he might exaggerate the 
venom and mischief of his impious compositions. 

From his camp in Palestine Amru had surprised or antici- 
pated the caliph's leave for the invasion of Egypt. The mag- 
nanimous Omar trusted in his God and his sword, which had 
shaken the thrones of Chosroes and Caesar ; but when he compared 
the slender force of the Moslems with the greatness of the enter- 
prise, he condemned his own rashness and listened to his timid 
companions. The pride and the greatness of Pharaoh were familiar 
to the readers of the Koran, and a tenfold repetition of prodigies 
had been scarcely sufficient to effect, not the victory, but the flight, 
of six hundred thousand of the children of Israel. The cities of 
Egypt were many and populous ; their architecture was strong and 
solid; the Nile, with its numerous branches, was alone an insuper- 
able barrier; and the granary of the imperial city would be ob- 
stinately defended by the Roman powers. In this perplexity the 
commander of the faithful resigned himself to the decision of 
chance, or, in his opinion, of Providence. In June, 638 a. d., with 
only 4000 Arabs the intrepid Amru had marched from his sta- 
tion of Gaza, when he was overtaken by the messenger of Omar. 
" If you are still in Syria," said the ambiguous mandate, " retreat 
without delay ; but if, at the receipt of this epistle, you have already 
reached the frontiers of Egypt, advance with confidence, and de- 
pend on the succor of God and of your brethren." The experience, 
perhaps the secret intelligence, of Amru had taught him to suspect 
the mutability of courts; and he continued his march till his tents 
were unquestionably pitched on Egyptian ground. He there as- 
sembled his officers, broke the seal, perused the epistle, gravely 
inquired the name and situation of the place, and declared his 
ready obedience to the commands of the caliph. After a siege of 
thirty days he took possession of Furmah or Pelusium, and that 
key of Egypt, as it has been justly named, unlocked the entrance 



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292 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

of the country as far as the ruins of Heliopolis and the neighbor- 
hood of the modern Cairo. 

On the western side of the Nile, at a small distance to the 
east of the Pyramids, and a short distance to the south of the Delta, 
Memphis, 150 furlongs in circumference, displayed the magnifi- 
cence of ancient kings. Under the reign of the Ptolemies and 
Caesars the seat of government was removed to the seacoast; the 
ancient capital was eclipsed by the arts and opulence of Alexandria ; 
the palaces, and at length the temples, were reduced to a desolate 
and ruinous condition: yet in the age of Augustus, and even in 
that of Constantine, Memphis was still numbered among the great- 
est and most populous of the provincial cities. The banks of the 
Nile, in this place of the breadth of three thousand feet, were 
united by two bridges of sixty and of thirty boats, connected in the 
middle stream by the small island of Roda, which was covered 
with gardens and habitations. The eastern extremity of the bridge 
was terminated by the town of Babylon and the camp of a Roman 
legion, which protected the passage of the river and the second cap- 
ital of Egypt. This important fortress, which might fairly be 
described as a part of Memphis or Misr, was invested by the 
arms of the lieutenant of Omar ; a reinforcement of 4000 Saracens 
soon arrived in his camp, and the military engines which battered 
the walls may be imputed to the art and labor of his Syrian allies. 
Yet the siege was protracted to seven months, and the rash invaders 
were encompassed and threatened by the inundation of the Nile. 
Their last assault was bold and successful: they passed the ditch, 
which had been fortified with iron spikes, applied their scaling 
ladders, entered the fortress with the shout of " God is victorious ! " 
and drove the remnant of the Greeks to their boats and the Isle of 
Roda. The spot was afterward recommended to the conqueror 
by the easy communication with the gulf and the peninsula of 
Arabia; the remains of Memphis were deserted; the tents of the 
Arabs were converted into permanent habitations; and the first 
mosque was blessed by the presence of fourscore companions of 
Mohammed. A new city arose in their camp, on the eastward bank 
of the Nile, and the contiguous quarters of Babylon and Fostat are 
confounded in their present decay by the appellation of old Misr, 
or Cairo, of which they form an extensive suburb. But the name 
of Cairo, the town of victory, more strictly belongs to the modern 
capital, which was founded in the tenth century by the Fatimite 



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ARABIA 293 

caliphs. It has gradually receded from the river, but the con- 
tinuity of buildings may be traced by an attentive eye from the 
monuments of Sesostris to those of Saladin. 

Yet the Arabs, after a glorious and profitable enterprise, must 
have retreated to the desert had they not found a powerful alliance 
in the heart of the country. The rapid conquest of Alexander was 
assisted by the superstition and revolt of the natives : they abhorred 
their Persian oppressors, the disciples of the Magi, who had burned 
the temples of Egypt and feasted with sacrilegious appetite on the 
flesh of the god Apis. After a period of ten centuries the same 
revolution was renewed by a similar cause, and in the support of 
an incomprehensible creed the zeal of the Coptic Christians was 
equally ardent. The Monophysite controversy, with its violent 
and protracted struggles, and the persecution of the emperors, 
had converted a sect into a nation and alienated Egypt from the 
orthodox religion and government. The Saracens were received 
as the deliverers of the Jacobite Church ; and a secret and effectual 
treaty was opened during the siege of Memphis between a victorious 
army and a people of slaves. A rich and noble Egyptian, of the 
name of Mokawkas, had dissembled his faith to obtain the admin- 
istration of his province. In the disorders of the Persian war he 
aspired to independence: the embassy of Mohammed ranked him 
among princes, but he declined, with rich gifts and ambiguous com- 
pliments, the proposal of a new religion. The abuse of his trust 
exposed him to the resentment of Heraclius: his submission was 
delayed by arrogance and fear; and his conscience prompted by 
interest to throw himself on the favor of the nation and the sup- 
port of the Saracens. In his first conference with Amru he heard 
without indignation the usual option of the Koran, the tribute, or 
the sword. "The Greeks/' replied Mokawkas, "are determined 
to abide the determination of the sword ; but with the Greeks I de- 
sire no communion, either in this world or in the next, and I ab- 
r jure forever the Byzantine tyrant, his synod of Chalcedon, and his 
Melchite slaves. For myself and my brethren, we are resolved to 
live and die in the profession of the gospel and unity of Christ. 
It is impossible for us to embrace the revelations of your Prophet ; 
but we are desirous of peace, and cheerfully submit to pay tribute 
and obedience to his temporal successors." The tribute was ascer- 
tained at two pieces of gold for the head of every Christian; but 
old men, monks, women, and children of both sexes under sixteen 



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294 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

years of age, were exempted from this personal assessment. The 
Copts above and below Memphis swore allegiance to the caliph, 
and promised a hospitable entertainment of three days to every 
Mussulman who should travel through their country. By this 
charter of security the ecclesiastical and civil tyranny of the Mel- 
chites was destroyed; the anathemas of St. Cyril were thundered 
from every pulpit, and the sacred edifices, with the patrimony of 
the church, were restored to the national communion of the Jacob- 
ites, who enjoyed without moderation the moment of triumph 
and revenge. At the pressing summons of Amru their patriarch 
Benjamin emerged from his desert, and after the first interview the 
courteous Arab affected to declare that he had never conversed with 
a Christian priest of more innocent manners and a more venerable 
aspect. In the march from Memphis to Alexandria the lieutenant 
of Omar intrusted his safety to the zeal and gratitude of the Egyp- 
tians : the roads and bridges were diligently repaired ; and in every 
step of his progress he could depend on a constant supply of pro- 
visions and intelligence. The Greeks of Egypt, whose numbers 
could scarcely equal a tenth of the natives, were overwhelmed by 
the universal defection. They had ever been hated, they were no 
longer feared: the magistrate fled from his tribunal, the bishop 
from his altar, and the distant garrisons were surprised or starved 
by the surrounding multitudes. Had not the Nile afforded a safe 
and ready conveyance to the sea not an individual could have 
escaped who by birth, or language, or office, or religion was con- 
nected with their odious name. 

By the retreat of the Greeks from the provinces of Upper 
Egypt a considerable force was collected in the island of the Delta ; 
the natural and artificial channels of the Nile afforded a succession 
of strong and defensible posts: and the road to Alexandria was 
laboriously cleared by the victory of the Saracens in two-and- 
twenty days of general or partial combat. In their annals of con- 
quest the siege of Alexandria is perhaps the most arduous and 
important enterprise. The first trading city in the world was 
abundantly provided with the means of subsistence and defense. 
Her numerous inhabitants fought for the dearest of human rights, 
religion and property, and the enmity of the natives seemed to ex- 
clude them from the common benefit of peace and toleration. The 
sea was continually open, and if Heraclius had been awake to the 
public distress fresh armies of Romans and barbarians might have 



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ARABIA 295 

been poured into the harbor to save the second capital of the 
empire. A circumference of ten miles would have scattered the 
forces of the Greeks and favored the stratagems of an active 
enemy ; but the two sides of an oblong square were covered by the 
sea and Lake Maraeotis, and each of the narrow ends exposed 
a front of no more than ten furlongs. The efforts of the Arabs 
were not inadequate to the difficulty of the attempt and the value 
of the prize. From the throne of Medina the eyes of Omar were 
fixed on the camp and city. His voice excited to arms the Arabian 
tribes and the veterans of Syria, and the merit of a holy war was 
recommended by the peculiar fame and fertility of Egypt. Anxious 
for the ruin or expulsion of their tyrants, the faithful natives de- 
voted their labors to the service of Amru : some sparks of martial 
spirit were perhaps rekindled by the example of their allies, and 
the sanguine hopes of Mokawkas had fixed his sepulcher in the 
Church of St. John of Alexandria. Eutychius the patriarch ob- 
serves that the Saracens fought with the courage of lions. They 
repulsed the frequent and almost daily sallies of the besieged, and 
soon assaulted in their turn the walls and towers of the city. In 
every attack the sword, the banner of Amru, glittered in the van 
of the Moslems. On a memorable day he was betrayed by his 
imprudent valor: his followers who had entered the citadel were 
driven back, and the general, with a friend and a slave, remained 
a prisoner in the hands of the Christians. When Amru was con- 
ducted before the prefect he remembered his dignity and forgot 
his situation : a lofty demeanor and resolute language revealed the 
lieutenant of the caliph, and the battle-ax of a soldier was already 
raised to strike off the head of the audacious captive. His life was 
saved by the readiness of his slave, who instantly gave his master 
a blow on the face, and commanded him, with an angry tone, to be 
silent in the presence of his superiors. The credulous Greek was 
deceived : he listened to the offer of a treaty, and his prisoners were 
dismissed in the hope of a more respectable embassy, till the joyful 
acclamations of the camp announced the return of their general, 
and insulted the folly of the infidels. At length, after a siege of 
fourteen months and the loss of three-and-twenty thousand men, 
the Saracens prevailed: the Greeks embarked their dispirited and 
diminished numbers, and the standard of Mohammed was planted 
on the walls of the capital of Egypt. " I have taken," said Amru 
to the caliph, " the great city of the west. It is impossible for 



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296 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

me to enumerate the variety of its riches and beauty; and I shall 
content myself with observing that it contains four thousand pal- 
aces, four thousand baths, four hundred theaters or places of 
amusement, twelve thousand shops for the sale of vegetable food, 
and forty thousand tributary Jews. The town has been subdued 
by force of arms, without treaty or capitulation, and the Moslems 
are impatient to seize the fruits of their victory." The commander 
of the faithful rejected with firmness the idea of pillage, and di- 
rected his lieutenant to reserve the wealth and revenue of Alex- 
andria for the public service and the propagation of the faith : the 
inhabitants were numbered; a tribute was imposed; the zeal and 
resentment of the Jacobites were curbed, and the Melchites who 
submitted to the Arabian yoke were indulged in the obscure but 
tranquil exercise of their worship. The intelligence of this dis- 
graceful and calamitous event afflicted the declining health of the 
emperor, and Heraclius died of a dropsy about seven weeks after 
the loss of Alexandria. Under the minority of his grandson the 
clamors of a people deprived of their daily sustenance compelled 
the Byzantine court to undertake the recovery of the capital of 
Egypt. In the space of four years the harbor and fortifications of 
Alexandria were twice occupied by a fleet and army of Romans. 
They were twice expelled by the valor of Amru, who was recalled 
by the domestic peril from the distant wars of Tripoli and Nubia. 
But the facility of the attempt, the repetition of the insult, and the 
obstinacy of the resistance provoked him to swear that if a third 
time he drove the infidels into the sea he would render Alexandria 
as accessible on all sides as the house of a prostitute. Faithful to 
his promise, he dismantled several parts of the walls and towers, 
but the people were spared in the chastisement of the city, and the 
Mosque of Mercy was erected on the spot where the victorious 
general had stopped the fury of his troops. 

I should deceive the expectation of the reader if I passed in 
silence the fate of the Alexandrian library, as it is described by the 
learned Abulpharagius. The spirit of Amru was more curious 
and liberal than that of his brethren, and in his leisure hours the 
Arabian chief was pleased with the conversation of John, the last 
disciple of Ammonius, and who derived the surname of Philoponus 
from his laborious studies of grammar and philosophy. Embold- 
ened by this familiar intercourse, Philoponus presumed to solicit 
a gift, inestimable in his opinion, contemptible in that of the bar- 



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ARABIA 297 

barians — the royal library, which alone, among the spoils of Alex- 
andria, had not been appropriated by the visit and the seal of the 
conqueror. Amru was inclined to gratify the wish of the gram- 
marian, but his rigid integrity refused to alienate the minutest ob- 
ject without the consent of the caliph ; and the well-known answer 
of Omar was inspired by the ignorance of a fanatic " If these 
writings of the Greeks agree with the book of God, they are useless, 
and need not be preserved; if they disagree, they are pernicious, 
and ought to be destroyed." The sentence was executed with 
blind obedience, the volumes of paper or parchment were distributed 
to the four thousand baths of the city ; and such was their incred- 
ible multitude that six months were barely sufficient for the 
consumption of this precious fuel. Since the Dynasties of Abul- 
pharagius have been given to the world in a Latin version, the 
tale has been repeatedly transcribed ; and every scholar, with pious 
indignation, has deplored the irreparable shipwreck of the learn- 
ing, the arts, and the genius of antiquity. For my own part, I am 
strongly tempted to deny both the fact and the consequences. The 
fact is indeed marvelous. " Read and wonder ! " says the historian 
himself; and the solitary report of a stranger who wrote at the end 
of six hundred years on the confines of Media is overbalanced by 
the silence of two annalists of a more early date, both Christians, 
both natives of Egypt, and the most ancient of whom, the patri- 
arch Eutychius, has amply described the conquest of Alexandria. 
The rigid sentence of Omar is repugnant to the sound and ortho- 
dox precept of the Mohammedan casuists; they expressly declare 
that the religious books of the Jews and Christians which are ac- 
quired by the right of war should never be committed to the flames ; 
and that the works of profane science, historians or poets, physi- 
cians or philosophers, may be lawfully applied to the use of the 
A more destructive zeal may perhaps be attributed to the 
first successors of Mohammed; yet in this instance the conflagra- 
tion would have speedily expired in the deficiency of materials. I 
shall not recapitulate the disasters of the Alexandrian library, the 
involuntary flame that was kindled by Caesar in his own defense, 
or the mischievous bigotry of the Christians, who studied to de- 
stroy the monuments of idolatry. But if we gradually descend 
from the age of the Antonines to that of Theodosius, we shall 
learn from a chain of contemporary witnesses that the royal palace 
and the temple of Serapis no longer contained the four, or the 




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298 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

seven, hundred thousand volumes which had been assembled by the 
curiosity and magnificence of the Ptolemies. Perhaps the church 
and seat of the patriarchs might be enriched with a repository of 
books; but if the ponderous mass of Arian and Monophysite con- 
troversy were indeed consumed in the public baths, a philosopher 
may allow, with a smile, that it was ultimately devoted to the 
benefit of mankind. I sincerely regret the more valuable libraries 
which have been involved in the ruin of the Roman Empire; but 
when I seriously compute the lapse of ages, the waste of ignor- 
ance, and the calamities of war, our treasures, rather than our 
losses, are the objects of my surprise. Many curious and interest- 
ing facts are buried in oblivion: the three great historians of 
Rome have been transmitted to our hands in a mutilated state, 
and we are deprived of many pleasing compositions of the lyric, 
iambic, and dramatic poetry of the Greeks. Yet we should grate- 
fully remember that the mischances of time and accident have 
spared the classic works to which the suffrage of antiquity had 
adjudged the first place of genius and glory : the teachers of ancient 
knowledge who are still extant had perused and compared the writ- 
ings of their predecessors, nor can it fairly be presumed that any 
important truth, any useful discovery in art or nature, has been 
snatched away from the curiosity of modern ages. 

In the administration of Egypt Amru balanced the demands 
of justice and policy; the interest of the people of the law, who 
were defended by God ; and of the people of the alliance, who were 
protected by man. In the recent tumult of conquest and deliver- 
ance the tongue of the Copts and the sword of the Arabs were most 
adverse to the tranquillity of the province. To the former Amru 
declared that faction and falsehood would be doubly chastised^ by 
the punishment of the accusers, whom he should detest as his per- 
sonal enemies, and by the promotion of their innocent brethren, 
whom their envy had labored to injure and supplant. He excited 
the latter by the motives of religion and honor to sustain the dig- 
nity of their character, to endear themselves by a modest and tem- 
perate conduct to God and the caliph, to spare and protect a people 
who had trusted to their faith, and to content themselves with the 
legitimate and splendid rewards of their victory. In the manage- 
ment of the revenue he disapproved the simple but oppressive mode 
of a capitation, and preferred with reason a proportion of taxes de- 
ducted on every branch from the clear profits of agriculture and 



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ARABIA 299 

commerce. A third part of the tribute was appropriated to the 
annual repairs of the dikes and canals, so essential to the public 
welfare. Under his administration the fertility of Egypt supplied 
the dearth of Arabia, and a string of camels, laden with corn and 
provisions, covered almost without an interval the long road from 
Memphis to Medina. But the genius of Amru soon renewed the 
maritime communication which had been attempted or achieved by 
the Pharaohs, the Ptolemies, or the Caesars ; and a canal, at least 
eighty miles in length, was opened from the Nile to the Red Sea. 
This inland navigation, which would have joined the Mediter- 
ranean and the Indian Ocean, was soon discontinued as useless 
and dangerous: the throne was removed from Medina to Damas- 
cus, and the Grecian fleets might have explored a passage to the 
holy cities of Arabia. 

Of his new conquest the Caliph Omar had an imperfect knowl- 
edge from the voice of fame and the legends of the Koran. He 
requested that his lieutenant would place before his eyes the realm 
of Pharaoh and the Amalekites; and the answer of Amru ex- 
hibits a lively and not unfaithful picture of that singular country. 
" O commander of the faithful, Egypt is a compound of black earth 
and green plants between a pulverized mountain and a red sand. 
The distance from Syene to the sea is a month's journey for a 
horseman. Along the valley descends a river, on which the bless- 
ing of the Most High reposes both in the evening and morning, 
and which rises and falls with the revolutions of the sun and moon. 
When the annual dispensation of Providence unlocks the springs 
and fountains that nourish the earth, the Nile rolls his swelling and 
sounding waters through the realm of Egypt: the fields are over- 
spread by the salutary flood, and the villages communicate with 
each other in their painted barks. The retreat of the inundation 
deposits a fertilizing mud for the reception of the various seeds: 
the crowds of husbandmen who blacken the land may be compared 
to a swarm of industrious ants ; and their native indolence is quick- 
ened by the lash of the task-master and the promise of the flowers 
and fruits of a plentiful increase. Their hope is seldom deceived, 
but the riches which they extract from the wheat, the barley, and the 
rice, the legumes, the fruit trees, and the cattle are unequally shared 
between those who labor and those who possess. According to the 
vicissitudes of the seasons, the face of the country is adorned with 
a silver wave, a verdant emerald, and the deep yellow of a golden 



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800 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

harvest" Yet this beneficial order is sometimes interrupted, and 
the long delay and sudden swell of the river in the first year of the 
conquest might afford some color to an edifying fable. It is said 
that the annual sacrifice of a virgin had been interdicted by the 
piety of Omar; and that the Nile lay sullen and inactive in his 
shallow bed, till the mandate of the caliph was cast into the obe- 
dient stream, which rose in a single night to the height of sixteen 
cubits. The admiration of the Arabs for their new conquest en- 
couraged the license of their romantic spirit. We may read in the 
gravest authors that Egypt was crowded with 20,000 cities or vil- 
lages; that, exclusive of the Greeks and Arabs, the Copts alone 
were found, on the assessment, 6,000,000 of tributary subjects, 
or 20,000,000 of either sex, and of every age; that 300,000,000 
of gold or silver were annually paid to the treasury of the caliphs. 
Our reason must be startled by these extravagant assertions, and 
they will become more palpable if we assume the compass and 
measure the extent of habitable ground: a valley from the tropic 
to Memphis is seldom broader than 12 miles, and the triangle of 
the Delta, a flat surface of 2100 square leagues, composes a twelfth 
part of the magnitude of France. A more accurate research will 
justify a more reasonable estimate. The 300,000,000 created by 
the error of a scribe are reduced to the decent revenue of 4,300,000 
pieces of gold, of which 900,000 were consumed by the pay of the 
soldiers. Two authentic lists, of the eighteenth and of the twelfth 
century, are circumscribed within the respectable number of 2700 
villages and towns. After a long residence at Cairo a French con- 
sul has ventured to assign about 4,000,000 of Mohammedans, 
Christians, and Jews, for the ample, though not incredible, scope 
of the population of Egypt. 

The conquest of Africa, from the Nile to the Atlantic Ocean, 
was first attempted by the arms of the Caliph Othman (647-656). 
The pious design was approved by the companions of Mohammed 
and the chiefs of the tribes; and 20,000 Arabs marched from 
Medina, with the gifts and the blessing of the commander of the 
faithful. They were joined in the camp of Memphis by 20,000 of 
their countrymen, and the conduct of the war was intrusted to 
Abdallah, the son of Said and the foster-brother of the caliph, 
who had lately supplanted the conqueror and lieutenant of Egypt. 
Yet the favor of the prince and the merit of his favorite could 
not obliterate the guilt of his apostasy. The early conversion of 



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ARABIA 801 

Abdallah, and his skillful pen, had recommended him to the im- 
portant office of transcribing the sheets of the Koran. He betrayed 
his trust, corrupted the text, derided the errors which he had made, 
and fled to Mecca to escape the justice, and expose the ignorance 
of the Apostle. After the conquest of Mecca he fell prostrate at 
the feet of Mohammed; his tears, and the entreaties of Othman, 
extorted a reluctant pardon, but the Prophet declared that he had so 
long hesitated, to allow time for some zealous disciple to avenge 
his injury in the blood of the apostate. With apparent fidelity 
and effective merit he served the religion which it was no longer 
his interest to desert : his birth and talents gave him an honorable 
rank among the Koreish, and in a nation of cavalry Abdallah was 
renowned as the boldest and most dexterous horseman of Arabia. 
At the head of 40,000 Moslems he advanced from Egypt into the 
unknown countries of the west. The sands of Barka might be 
impervious to a Roman legion, but the Arabs were attended by 
their faithful camels, and the natives of the desert beheld without 
terror the familiar aspect of the soil and climate. After a painful 
march they pitched their tents before the walls of Tripoli, a mari- 
time city in which the name, the wealth, and the inhabitants of the 
province had gradually centered, and which now maintains the 
third rank among the states of Barbary. A reinforcement of 
Greeks was surprised and cut in pieces on the seashore, but the 
fortifications of Tripoli resisted the first assaults, and the Saracens 
were tempted by the approach of the prefect Gregory to relinquish 
the labors of the siege for the perils and the hopes of a decisive 
action. If his standard was followed by 120,000 men, the regular 
bands of the empire must have been lost in the naked and disorderly 
crowd of Africans and Moors, who formed the strength, or rather 
the numbers, of his host He rejected with indignation the option 
of the Koran or the tribute, and during several days the two armies 
were fiercely engaged from the dawn of light to the hour of noon, 
when their fatigue and the excessive heat compelled them to seek 
shelter and refreshment in their respective camps. The daughter 
of Gregory, a maid of incomparable beauty and spirit, is said to 
have fought by his side. From her earliest youth she was trained 
to mount on horseback, to draw the bow, and to wield the scimiter, 
and the richness of her arms and apparel were conspicuous in the 
foremost ranks of the battle. Her hand, with a hundred thousand 
pieces of gold, was offered for the head of the Arabian general, 



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308 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

and the youth of Africa were excited by the prospect of the glo- 
rious prize. At the pressing solicitation of his brethren Abdallah 
withdrew his person from the field, but the Saracens were discour- 
aged by the retreat of their leader, and the repetition of these equal 
or unsuccessful conflicts. 

A noble Arabian, who afterward became the adversary of 
AH, and the father of a caliph, had signalized his valor in Egypt, 
and Zobeir was the first who planted the scaling-ladder against the 
walls of Babylon. In the African war he was detached from the 
standard of Abdallah. On the news of the battle Zobeir, with 
twelve companions, cut his way through the camp of the Greeks 
and pressed forward, without tasting either food or repose, to par- 
take of the dangers of his brethren. He cast his eyes round the 
field: "Where," said he, "is our general?" "In his tent" "Is 
the tent a station for the general of the Moslems?" Abdallah 
represented with a blush the importance of his own life and the 
temptation that was held forth by the Roman prefect. " Retort," 
said Zobeir, " on the infidels their ungenerous attempt. Proclaim 
through the ranks that the head of Gregory shall be repaid with his 
captive daughter, and the equal sum of one hundred thousand 
pieces of gold." To the courage and discretion of Zobeir the 
lieutenant of the Caliph intrusted the execution of his own strata- 
gem, which inclined the long-disputed balance in favor of the 
Saracens. Supplying by activity and artifice the deficiency of num- 
bers, a part of their forces lay concealed in their tents, while the re- 
mainder prolonged an irregular skirmish with the enemy till the 
sun was high in the heavens. On both sides they retired with 
fainting steps. Their horses were unbridled, their armor was laid 
aside, and the hostile nations prepared, or seemed to prepare, for 
the refreshment of the evening and the encounter of the ensuing day. 
On a sudden the charge was sounded, the Arabian camp poured 
forth a swarm of fresh and intrepid warriors, and the long line of 
the Greeks and Africans was surprised, assaulted, overturned, by 
new squadrons of the faithful, who, to the eye of fanaticism, might 
appear as a band of angels descending from the sky. The prefect 
himself was slain by the hand of Zobeir. His daughter, who 
sought revenge and death, was surrounded and made prisoner, and 
the fugitives involved in their disaster the town of Sufetula, to 
which they escaped from the sabers and lances of the Arabs. Sufe- 
tula was built 150 miles to the south of Carthage. A gentle de- 



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ARABIA S03 

clivity is watered by a running stream, and shaded by a grove 
of juniper trees, and in the ruins of a triumphal arch, a portico and 
three temples of the Corinthian order curiosity may yet admire 
the magnificence of the Romans. After the fall of this opulent 
city the provincials and barbarians implored on all sides the mercy 
of the conqueror. His vanity or his zeal might be flattered by 
offers of tribute or professions of faith, but his losses, his fatigues, 
and the progress of an epidemical disease prevented a solid estab- 
lishment; and the Saracens, after a campaign of fifteen months, 
retreated to the confines of Egypt, with the captives and the wealth 
of their African expedition. The caliph's fifth was granted to a 
favorite, on the nominal payment of five hundred thousand pieces of 
gold ; but the state was doubly injured by this fallacious transaction, 
if each foot-soldier had shared one thousand, and each horseman 
three thousand, pieces, in the real division of the plunder. The 
author of the death of Gregory was expected to have claimed the 
most precious reward of the victory: from his silence it might be 
presumed that he had fallen in the battle, till the tears and exclama- 
tions of the prefect's daughter at the sight of Zobeir revealed the 
valor and modesty of that gallant soldier. The unfortunate virgin 
was offered, and almost rejected as a slave, by her father's mur- 
derer, who coolly declared that his sword was consecrated to the 
service of religion ; and that he labored for a recompense far above 
the charms of mortal beauty or the riches of this transitory life. A 
reward congenial to his temper was the honorable commission of 
announcing to the Caliph Othman the success of his arms. The 
companions, the chiefs, and the people were assembled in the 
mosque of Medina, to hear the interesting narrative of Zobeir; 
and as the orator forgot nothing except the merit of his own coun- 
sels and actions, the name of Abdallah was joined by the Arabians 
with the heroic names of Khalid and Amru. 

The western conquests of the Saracens were suspended nearly 
twenty years, till their dissensions were composed by the establish- 
ment of the house of Omayyah; and the Caliph Moawiyah was 
invited by the cries of the Africans themselves. The successors of 
Heraclius had been informed of the tribute which they had been 
compelled to stipulate with the Arabs, but instead of being moved 
to pity and relieve their distress, they imposed, as an equivalent or 
a fine, a second tribute of a similar amount. The ears of the 
Byzantine ministers were shut against the complaints of their 



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80* ANCIENT EMPIRES 

poverty and ruin. Their despair was reduced to prefer the domin- 
ion of a single master, and the extortions of the patriarch of 
Carthage, who was invested with civil and military power, pro- 
voked the sectaries, and even the Catholics of the Roman province, 
to abjure the religion as well as the authority of their tyrants. The 
first lieutenant of Moawiyah acquired a just renown, subdued an 
important city, defeated an army of thirty thousand Greeks, swept 
away fourscore thousand captives, and enriched with their spoils 
the bold adventurers of Syria and Egypt. But the title of con- 
querer of Africa is more justly due to his successor Okbah. He 
marched from Damascus at the head of ten thousand of the bravest 
Arabs, and the genuine force of the Moslems was enlarged by 
the doubtful aid and conversion of many thousand barbarians. It 
would be difficult, nor is it necessary, to trace the accurate line of 
the progress of Okbah. The interior regions have been peopled 
by the Orientals with fictitious armies and imaginary citadels. In 
the warlike province of Zab, or Numidia, fourscore thousand of 
the natives might assemble in arms ; but the number of 360 towns 
is incompatible with the ignorance or decay of husbandry, and a 
circumference of three leagues will not be justified by the ruins of 
Erbe or Lambesa, the ancient metropolis of that inland country. 
As we approach the seacoast the well-known cities of Bugia and 
Tangier define the more certain limits of the Saracen victories. 
A remnant of trade still adheres to the commodious harbor of 
Bugia, which in a more prosperous age is said to have contained 
about twenty thousand houses, and the plenty of iron which is dug 
from the adjacent mountains might have supplied a braver people 
with the instruments of defense. The remote position and vener- 
able antiquity of Tingi, or Tangier, have been decorated by the 
Greek and Arabian fables, but the figurative expressions of the 
latter, that the walls were constructed of brass, and that the roofs 
were covered with gold and silver, may be interpreted as the em- 
blems of strength and opulence. The province of Mauritania 
Tingitana, which assumed the name of the capital, had been imper- 
fectly discovered and settled by the Romans ; the five colonies were 
confined to a narrow pale, and the more southern parts were seldom 
explored except by the agents of luxury, who searched the forests 
for ivory and the citron wood, and the shores of the ocean for the 
purple shell-fish. The fearless Okbah plunged into the heart of 
the country, traversed the wilderness in which his successors 



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ARABIA S05 

erected the splendid capitals of Fez and Morocco, and at length 
penetrated to the verge of the Atlantic and the great desert. The 
river Sus descends from the western side of Mount Atlas, ferti- 
lizes, like the Nile, the adjacent soil, and falls into the sea at a 
moderate distance from the Canary, or Fortunate, Islands. Its 
banks were inhabited by the last of the Moors, a race of savages, 
without laws, or discipline, or religion; they were astonished by 
the strange and irresistible terrors of the Oriental arms, and as 
they possessed neither gold nor silver, the richest spoil was the 
beauty of the female captives, some of whom were afterward sold 
for a thousand pieces of gold. The career, though not the zeal, 
of Okbah was checked by the prospect of a boundless ocean. He 
spurred his horse into the waves, and raising his eyes to heaven, 
exclaimed with a tone of a fanatic, " Great God ! if my course 
were not stopped by this sea, I would still go on, to the unknown 
kingdoms of the West, preaching the unity of thy holy name, and 
putting to the sword the rebellious nations who worship any other 
Gods than thee." Yet this Mohammedan Alexander, who sighed 
for new worlds, was unable to preserve his recent conquests. By 
the universal defection of the Greeks and Africans he was recalled 
from the shores of the Atlantic, and the surrounding multitudes 
left him only the resource of an honorable death. The last scene 
was dignified by an example of national virtue. An ambitious 
chief, who had disputed the command and failed in the attempt, 
was led about as a prisoner in the camp of the Arabian general. 
The insurgents had trusted to his discontent and revenge; he dis- 
dained their offers, and revealed their designs. In the hour of 
danger the grateful Okbah unlocked his fetters and advised him to 
retire ; he chose to die under the banner of his rival. Embracing as 
friends and martyrs, they unsheathed their scimiters, broke their 
scabbards, and maintained an obstinate combat, till they fell by 
each other's side on the last of their slaughtered countrymen. The 
third general or governor of Africa, Zuheir, avenged and encoun- 
tered the fate of his predecessor. He vanquished the natives in 
many battles ; he was overthrown by a powerful army, which Con- 
stantinople had sent to the relief of Carthage. 

It had been the frequent practice of the Moorish tribes to join 
the invaders, to share the plunder, to profess the faith, and to 
revolt to their savage state of independence and idolatry, on the 
first retreat or misfortune of the Moslems. The prudence of 



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306 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

Okbah had proposed to found an Arabian colony in the heart of 
Africa; a citadel that might curb the levity of the barbarians, a 
place of refuge to secure against the accidents of war the wealth 
and the families of the Saracens. With this view, and under the 
modest title of the station of a caravan, he planted this colony 
in the fiftieth year of Hegira. In its present decay, Cairoan 
still holds the second rank in the kingdom of Tunis, from which 
it is distant about fifty miles to the south: its inland situation, 
twelve miles westward of the sea, has protected the city from the 
Greek and Sicilian fleets. When the wild beasts and serpents were 
extirpated, when the forest, or rather wilderness, was cleared, the 
vestiges of a Roman town were discovered in a sandy plain: the 
vegetable food of Cairoan is brought from afar, and the scarcity of 
springs constrains the inhabitants to collect in cisterns and reser- 
voirs a precarious supply of rain water. These obstacles were sub- 
dued by the industry of Okbah; he traced a circumference of 
3600 paces, which he encompassed with a brick wall. In the space 
of five years the governor's palace was surrounded with a sufficient 
number of private habitations, a spacious mosque was supported 
by five hundred columns of granite, porphyry, and Numidian 
marble, and Cairoan became the seat of learning as well as of 
empire. But these were the glories of a later age ; the new colony 
was shaken by the successive defeats of Okbah and Zuheir, and the 
western expeditions were again interrupted by the civil discord of 
the Arabian monarchy. The son of the valiant Zobeir maintained 
a war of twelve years, a siege of seven months against the house 
of Omayyah. Abdallah was said to unite the fierceness of the 
lion with the subtlety of the fox, but if he inherited the courage, 
he was devoid of the generosity, of his father. 

The return of domestic peace allowed the caliph Abdalmalek 
to resume the conquest of Africa; the standard was delivered to 
Hassan, governor of Egypt, and the revenue of that kingdom, 
with an army of 40,000 men, was consecrated to the important 
service. In the vicissitudes of war the interior provinces had 
been alternately won and lost by the Saracens. But the seacoast 
still remained in the hands of the Greeks ; the predecessors of Has- 
san had respected the name and fortifications of Carthage ; and the 
number of its defenders was recruited by the fugitives of Cabes 
and Tripoli. From 692 to 698 a. d. the arms of Hassan were for- 
tunate. He reduced and pillaged the metropolis of Africa, and the 



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ARABIA 807 

mention of scaling-ladders may justify the suspicion that he antici- 
pated, by a sudden assault, the more tedious operations of a regular 
siege. But the joy of the conquerors was soon disturbed by the 
appearance of the Christian allies. The prefect and patrician 
John, a general of experience and renown, embarked at Constanti- 
nople the forces of the Eastern Empire; they were joined by the 
ships and soldiers of Sicily, and a powerful reinforcement of Goths 
was obtained from the fears and religion of the Spanish monarch. 
The weight of the confederate navy broke the chain that guarded 
the entrance of the harbor; the Arabs retired to Cairoan, or 
Tripoli, the Christians landed; the citizens hailed the ensign of 
the cross, and the winter was idly wasted in the dream of victory 
or deliverance. But Africa was irrecoverably lost; the zeal and 
resentment of the commander of the faithful prepared in the ensu- 
ing spring a more numerous armament by sea and land; and the 
patrician in his turn was compelled to evacuate the post and forti- 
fications of Carthage. A second battle was fought in the neigh- 
borhood of Utica : the Greeks and Goths were again defeated ; and 
their timely embarkation saved them from the sword of Hassan, 
who had invested the slight and insufficient rampart of their camp. 
Whatever yet remained of Carthage was delivered to the flames, 
and the colony of Dido and Caesar lay desolate above two hundred 
years, till a part, perhaps a twentieth, of the old circumference was 
repeopled by the first of the Fatimite caliphs. In the beginning of 
the sixteenth century the second capital of the west was repre- 
sented by a mosque, a college without students, twenty-five or 
thirty shops, and the huts of five hundred peasants, who, in their 
abject poverty, displayed the arrogance of the Punic senators. 
Even that paltry village was swept away by the Spaniards whom 
Charles V. had stationed in the fortress of the Goletta. The ruins 
of Carthage have perished, and the place might be unknown if 
some broken arches of an aqueduct did not guide the footsteps of 
the inquisitive traveler. 

The Greeks were expelled, but the Arabians were not yet 
masters of the country. In the interior provinces the Moors or 
Berbers, so feeble under the first Caesars, so formidable to the 
Byzantine princes, maintained a disorderly resistance to the reli- 
gion and power of the successors of Mohammed. Under the 
standard of their queen, Cahina, the independent tribes acquired 
some degree of union and discipline; and as the Moors respected 



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808 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

in their females the character of a prophetess, they attacked the 
invaders with an enthusiasm similar to their own. The veteran 
bands of Hassan were inadequate to the defense of Africa. The 
conquests of an age were lost in a single day, and the Arabian 
chief, overwhelmed by the torrent, retired to the confines of Egypt, 
and expected, five years, the promised succors of the caliph. After 
the retreat of the Saracens the victorious prophetess assembled the 
Moorish chiefs and recommended a measure of strange and savage 
policy. "Our cities," said she, "and the gold and silver which 
they contain, perpetually attract the arms of the Arabs. These vile 
metals are not the objects of our ambition; we content ourselves 
with the simple productions of the earth. Let us destroy these 
cities; let us bury in their ruins those pernicious treasures; and 
when the avarice of our foes shall be destitute of temptation, per- 
haps they will cease to disturb the tranquillity of a warlike people." 
The proposal was accepted with unanimous applause. From Tan- 
gier to Tripoli the buildings, or at least the fortifications, were 
demolished, the fruit trees were cut down, the means of subsistence 
were extirpated, a fertile and populous garden was changed into 
a desert, and the historians of a more recent period could discern 
the frequent traces of the prosperity and devastation of their an- 
cestors. Such is the tale of the modern Arabians. Yet I strongly 
suspect that their ignorance of antiquity, the love of the marvelous, 
and the fashion of extolling the philosophy of barbarians, has in- 
duced them to describe, as one voluntary act, the calamities of 
three hundred years since the first fury of the Donatists and Van- 
dals. In the progress of the revolt Cahina had most probably 
contributed her share of destruction, and the alarm of universal 
ruin might terrify and alienate the cities that had reluctantly 
yielded to her unworthy yoke. They no longer hoped, perhaps they 
no longer wished, the return of their Byzantine sovereigns: their 
present servitude was not alleviated by the benefits of order and 
justice, and the most zealous Catholic must prefer the imperfect 
truths of the Koran to the blind and rude idolatry of the Moors. 
The general of the Saracens was again received as the savior of 
the province : the friends of civil society conspired against the sav- 
ages of the land, and the royal prophetess was slain in the first 
battle, which overturned the baseless fabric of her superstition and 
empire. The same spirit revived under the successor of Hassan: 
it was finally quelled by the activity of Musa and his two sons; 



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ARABIA 809 

but the number of the rebels may be presumed from that of 300,600 
captives, 60,000 of whom, the caliph's fifth, were sold for the profit 
of the public treasury. Thirty thousand of the barbarian youth 
were enlisted in the troops, and the pious labors of Musa, to incul- 
cate the knowledge and practice of the Koran, accustomed the 
Africans to obey the Apostle of God and the commander of the 
faithful. In their climate and government, their diet and habita- 
tion, the wandering Moors resembled the Beduins of the desert. 
With the religion they were proud to adopt the language, name, 
and origin of Arabs; the blood of the strangers and natives was 
insensibly mingled, and from the Euphrates to the Atlantic the 
same nation might seem to be diffused over the sandy plains of 
Asia and Africa. Yet I will not deny that fifty thousand tents of 
pure Arabians might be transported over the Nile and scattered 
through the Libyan desert, and I am not ignorant that five of the 
Moorish tribes still retain their barbarous idiom, with the appel- 
lation and character of white Africans. 



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Chapter VIII 

THE SARACENS IN EUROPE 

IN the progress of conquest from the north and south, the Goths 
and the Saracens encountered each other on the confines of 
Europe and Africa. In the opinion of the latter, the differ- 
ence of religion is a reasonable ground of enmity and warfare. 

As early as the time of Othman (644-656) their piratical 
squadrons had ravaged the coast of Andalusia; nor had they for- 
gotten the relief of Carthage by the Gothic arms. In that age, 
as well as in the present, the kings of Spain were possessed of 
the fortress of Ceuta, one of the columns of Hercules, which is 
divided by a narrow strait from the opposite pillar or point of 
Europe. A small portion of Mauritania was still wanting to the 
African conquest, but Musa, in the pride of victory, was repulsed 
from the walls of Ceuta by the vigilance and courage of Count 
Julian, the general of the Goths. From his disappointment and 
perplexity Musa was relieved in 711 by an unexpected message of 
the Christian chief, who offered his place, his person, and his sword 
to the successors of Mohammed, and solicited the disgraceful honor 
of introducing their arms into the heart of Spain. If we inquire 
into the cause of his treachery, the Spaniards will repeat the popu- 
lar story of his daughter Cava; of a virgin who was seduced, 
or ravished, by her sovereign; of a father who sacrificed his re- 
ligion and country to the thirst of revenge. The passions of 
princes have often been licentious and destructive, but this well- 
known tale, romantic in itself, is indifferently supported by ex- 
ternal evidence, and the history of Spain will suggest some motives 
of interest and policy more congenial to the breast of a veteran 
statesman. After the decease or deposition of Witiza in 709, his 
two sons were supplanted by the ambition of Roderic, a noble 
Goth, whose father, the duke or governor of a province, had fallen 
a victim to the preceding tyranny. The monarchy was still elec- 
tive, but the sons of Witiza, educated on the steps of the throne, 
were impatient of a private station. Their resentment was the 

310 



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ARABIA 811 

more dangerous as it was varnished with the dissimulation of 
courts ; their followers were excited by the remembrance of favors 
and the promise of a revolution, and their uncle, Oppas, Archbishop 
of Toledo and Seville, was the first person in the church, and 
the second in the state. It is probable that Julian was involved 
in the disgrace of the unsuccessful faction; that he had little to 
hope and much to fear from the new reign; and that the impru- 
dent king could not forget or forgive the injuries which Roderic 
and his family had sustained. The merit and influence of the 
count rendered him a useful or formidable subject ; his estates were 
ample, his followers bold and numerous, and it was too fatally 
shown that by his Andalusian and Mauritanian commands he 
held in his hand the keys of the Spanish monarchy. Too feeble, 
however, to meet his sovereign in arms, he sought the aid of a 
foreign power; and his rash invitation of the Moors and Arabs 
produced the calamities of eight hundred years. In his epistles, or 
in a personal interview, he revealed the wealth and nakedness of 
his country; the weakness of an unpopular prince, the degeneracy 
of an effeminate people. The Goths were no longer the victorious 
barbarians who had humbled the pride of Rome, despoiled the 
queen of nations, and penetrated from the Danube to the Atlantic 
Ocean. Secluded from the world by the Pyrenaean Mountains, the 
successors of Alaric had slumbered in a long peace. The walls of 
the cities were moldered into dust, the youth had abandoned the 
exercise of arms, and the presumption of their ancient renown 
would expose them in a field of battle to the first assault of the 
invaders. The ambitious Saracen was fired by the ease and im- 
portance of the attempt, but the execution was delayed till he had 
consulted the commander of the faithful; and his messenger re- 
turned with the permission of Walid to annex the unknown king- 
doms of the West to the religion and throne of the caliphs. In his 
residence of Tangier, Musa, with secrecy and caution, continued 
his correspondence and hastened his preparations. But the remorse 
of the conspirators was soothed by the fallacious assurance that 
he should content himself with the glory and spoil, without aspir- 
ing to establish the Moslems beyond the sea that separates Africa 
from Europe. 

Before Musa would trust an army of the faithful to the trai- 
tors and infidels of a foreign land he made a less dangerous trial 
of their strength and veracity. One hundred Arabs and four 



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312 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

hundred Africans passed over, in four vessels, from Tangier or 
Ceuta. The place of their descent on the opposite shore of the 
strait is marked by the name of Tarik, their chief, and the date of 
this memorable event is fixed to the month of Ramadan, of the 
ninety-first year of the Hegira, to the month of July, 748 years 
from the Spanish era of Caesar, 710 after the birth of Christ. 
From their first station they marched eighteen miles through a hilly 
country to the castle and town of Julian: on which (it is still called 
Algezire) they bestowed the name of the Green Island, from a 
verdant cape that advances into the sea. Their hospitable enter- 
tainment, the Christians who joined their standard, their inroad into 
a fertile and unguarded province, the richness of their spoil, and 
the safety of their return, announced to their brethren the most 
favorable omens of victory. In the following April 5000 veterans 
and volunteers were embarked under the command of Tank, a 
dauntless and skillful soldier, who surpassed the expectation of his 
chief; and the necessary transports were provided by the industry 
of their too faithful ally. The Saracens landed at the pillar or 
point of Europe; the corrupt and familiar appellation of Gibraltar 
(Gebel al Tarik) describes the mountain of Tarik; and the intrench- 
ments of his camp were the first outline of those fortifications, 
which, in the hands of Great Britain, have resisted the art and 
power of the house of Bourbon. The adjacent governors in- 
formed the court of Toledo of the descent and progress of the 
Arabs, and the defeat of his lieutenant, Edeco, who had been com- 
manded to seize and bind the presumptuous strangers, admonished 
Roderic of the magnitude of the danger. At the royal summons 
the dukes and counts, the bishops and nobles of the Gothic mon- 
archy assembled at the head of their followers, and the title of 
King of the Romans, which is employed by an Arabic historian, 
may be excused by the close affinity of language, religion, and 
manners between the nations of Spain. His army consisted of 
90,000 or 100,000 men; a formidable power, if their fidelity and 
discipline had been adequate to their numbers. The troops of 
Tarik had been augmented to 12,000 Saracens, but the Christian 
malcontents were attracted by the influence of Julian, and a crowd 
of Africans most greedily tasted the temporal blessings of the 
Koran. The town of Xeres, near Cadiz, has been made famous by 
the encounter (July 19-26) which determined the fate of the king- 
dom ; the stream of the Guadalete, which falls into the bay, divided 



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ARABIA 818 

the two camps, and marked the advancing and retreating skir- 
mishes of three successive and bloody days. On the fourth day 
the two armies joined a more serious and decisive issue, but Alaric 
would have blushed at the sight of his unworthy successor, sus- 
taining on his head a diadem of pearls, encumbered with a flowing 
robe of gold and silken embroidery, and reclining on a litter or 
car of ivory drawn by two white mules. Notwithstanding the 
valor of the Saracens, they fainted under the weight of multitudes, 
and the plain of Xeres was overspread with 16,000 of their dead 
bodies. " My brethren," said Tarik to his surviving companions, 
" the enemy is before you, the sea is behind; whither would ye fly? 
Follow your general; I am resolved either to lose my life, or to 
trample on the prostrate king of the Romans." Besides the re- 
source of despair, he confided in the secret correspondence and noc- 
turnal interviews of Count Julian with the sons and the brother 
of Witiza. The two princes and the Archbishop of Toledo occu- 
pied the most important post : their well-timed defection broke the 
ranks of the Christians ; each warrior was prompted by fear or sus- 
picion to consult his personal safety ; and the remains of the Gothic 
army were scattered or destroyed in the flight and pursuit of the 
three following days. Amid the general disorder Roderic started 
from his car and mounted Orelia, the fleetest of his horses, but 
he escaped from a soldier's death to perish more ignobly in the 
waters of the Baetis or Guadalquivir. His diadem, his robes, and 
his courser were found on the bank, but as the body of the Gothic 
prince was lost in the waves, the pride and ignorance of the caliph 
must have been gratified with some meaner head, which was ex- 
posed in triumph before the palace of Damascus. "And such," 
continues a valiant historian of the Arabs, " is the fate of those 
kings who withdraw themselves from a field of battle." 

Count Julian had plunged so deep into guilt and infamy that 
his only hope was in the ruin of his country. After the battle of 
Xeres he recommended the most effectual measures to the vic- 
torious Saracen. " The king of the Goths is slain ; their princes 
have fled before you, the army is routed, the nation is astonished. 
Secure with sufficient detachments the cities of Baetica ; but in per- 
son, and without delay, march to the royal city of Toledo, and 
allow not the distracted Christians either time or tranquillity for 
the election of a new monarch." Tarik listened to his advice. A 
Roman captive and proselyte who had been enfranchised by the 



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814 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

caliph himself assaulted Cordova with 700 horse. He swam the 
river, surprised the town, and drove the Christians into the great 
church, where they defended themselves above three months. An- 
other detachment reduced the seacoast of Boetica, which in the last 
period of the Moorish power has comprised in a narrow space the 
populous kingdom of Granada. The march of Tarik from the 
Guadalquivir to the Tagus was directed through the Sierra Morena, 
that separates Andalusia and Castille, till he appeared in arms under 
the walls of Toledo. The most zealous of the Catholics had escaped 
with the relics of their saints, and if the gates were shut, it was 
only till the victor had subscribed a fair and reasonable capitulation. 
The voluntary exiles were allowed to depart with their effects; 
seven churches were appropriated to the Christian worship; the 
archbishop and his clergy were at liberty to exercise their func- 
tions, the monks to practice or neglect their penance ; and the Goths 
and Romans were left in all civil and criminal cases to the sub- 
ordinate jurisdiction of their own laws and magistrates. But if 
the justice of Tarik protected the Christians, his gratitude and 
policy rewarded the Jews, to whose secret or open aid he was in- 
debted for his most important acquisitions. Persecuted by the 
kings and synods of Spain, who had often pressed the alternative 
of banishment or baptism, that outcast nation embraced the mo- 
ment of revenge: the comparison of their past and present state 
was the pledge of their fidelity, and the alliance between the dis- 
ciples of Moses and of Mohammed was maintained till the final era 
of their common expulsion. From the royal seat of Toledo the 
Arabian leader spread his conquests to the north, over the modern 
realms of Castille and Leon; but it is needless to enumerate the 
cities that yielded on his approach, or again to describe the table 
of emerald, transported from the East by the Romans, acquired 
by the Goths among the spoils of Rome, and presented by the Arabs 
to the throne of Damascus. Beyond the Asturian Mountains the 
maritime town of Gijon was the term of the lieutenant of Musa, 
who had performed, with the speed of a traveler, his victorious 
march of seven hundred miles from the rock of Gibraltar to the 
Bay of Biscay. The failure of land compelled him to retreat; and 
he was recalled to Toledo, to excuse his presumption of subduing 
a kingdom in the absence of his general. Spain, which in a more 
savage and disorderly state had resisted two hundred years the 
arms of the Romans, was overrun in a few months by those of the 



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ARABIA 815 

Saracens; and such was the eagerness of submission and treaty 
that the governor of Cordova is recorded as the only chief who 
fell, without conditions, a prisoner into their hands. The cause of 
the Goths had been irrevocably judged in the field of Xeres; and 
in the national dismay each part of the monarchy declined a con- 
test with the antagonist who had vanquished the united strength 
of the whole. That strength had been wasted by two successive 
seasons of famine and pestilence, and the governors, who were 
impatient to surrender, might exaggerate the difficulty of collect- 
ing the provisions of a siege. To disarm the Christians supersti- 
tion likewise contributed her terrors, and the subtle Arab en- 
couraged the report of dreams, omens, and prophecies, and of the 
portraits of the destined conquerors of Spain that were discovered 
on breaking open an apartment of the royal palace. Yet a spark of 
the vital flame was still alive. Some invincible fugitives pre- 
ferred a life of poverty and freedom in the Asturian valleys; 
the hardy mountaineers repulsed the slaves of the caliph; and the 
sword of Pelagius has been transformed into the scepter of the 
Catholic kings. 

On the intelligence of this rapid success, the applause of Musa 
degenerated into envy ; and he began, not to complain, but to fear, 
that Tarik would leave him nothing to subdue. In 712, with 
10,000 Arabs and 8000 Africans he passed over in person from 
Mauritania to Spain. The first of his companions were the noblest 
of the Koreish ; his eldest son was left in the command of Africa ; 
the three younger brethren were of an age and spirit to second the 
boldest enterprises of their father. At his landing in Algezire he 
was respectfully entertained by Count Julian, who stifled his in- 
ward remorse, and testified, both in words and actions, that the 
victory of the Arabs had not impaired his attachment to their 
cause. Some enemies yet remained for the sword of Musa. The 
tardy repentance of the Goths had compared their own numbers 
and those of the invaders; the cities from which the march of 
Tarik had declined considered themselves as impregnable; and the 
bravest patriots defended the fortifications of Seville and Merida. 
They were successively besieged and reduced by the labor of Musa, 
who transported his camp from the Guadalquivir to the Anas, from 
the Guadalquivir to the Guadiana. When he beheld the works of 
Roman magnificence, the bridge, the aqueducts, the triumphal 
arches, and the theater, of the ancient metropolis of Lusitania, " I 



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816 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

should imagine," said he to his four companions, " that the human 
race must have united their art and power in the foundation of this 
city. Happy is the man who shall become its master ! " He aspired 
to that happiness, but the Emeritans sustained on this occasion 
the honor of their descent from the veteran legionaries of Augus- 
tus. Disdaining the confinement of their walls, they gave battle 
to the Arabs on the plain, but an ambuscade rising from the shelter 
of a quarry, or a ruin, chastised their indiscretion and intercepted 
their return. The wooden turrets of assault were rolled forward 
to the foot of the rampart, but the defense of Merida was obstinate 
and long, and the castle of the martyrs was a perpetual testimony 
of the losses of the Moslems. The constancy of the besieged was 
at length subdued by famine and despair, and the prudent victor 
disguised his impatience under the names of clemency and esteem. 
The alternative of exile or tribute was allowed, the churches were 
divided between the two religions, and the wealth of those who had 
fallen in the siege, or retired to Gallicia, was confiscated as the re- 
ward of the faithful. In the midway between Merida and Toledo 
the lieutenant of Musa saluted the vicegerent of the caliph and con- 
ducted him to the palace of the Gothic kings. Their first interview 
was cold and formal. A rigid account was exacted of the treas- 
ures of Spain, the character of Tarik was exposed to suspicion and 
obloquy, and the hero was imprisoned, reviled, and ignominiously 
scourged by the hand, or the command, of Musa. Yet so strict was 
the discipline, so pure the zeal, or so tame the spirit, of the primi- 
tive Moslems, that after this public indignity Tarik could serve 
and be trusted in the reduction of the Tarragonese province. A 
mosque was erected at Saragossa, by the liberality of the Koreish, 
the port of Barcelona was opened to the vessels of Syria, and the 
Goths were pursued beyond the Pyrenaean Mountains into their 
Gallic province of Septimania or Languedoc. In the Church of 
St. Mary at Carcassone Musa found, but it is improbable that he 
left, seven equestrian statues of massy silver ; and from his term or 
column of Narbonne he returned on his footsteps to the Gallician 
and Lusitanian shores of the ocean. During the absence of the 
father, his son Abdul-Aziz chastised the insurgents of Seville and 
reduced, from Malaga to Valentia, the seacoast of the Mediter- 
ranean. His original treaty with the discreet and valiant Theode- 
mir will represent the manners and policy of the times. " The con- 
ditions of peace agreed and sworn between Abdul-Aziz, the son of 



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ARABIA 817 

Musa, the son of Nassir, and Theodemir, prince of the Goths. In 
the name of the most merciful God, Abdul-Aziz makes peace on 
these conditions : that Theodemir shall not be disturbed in his prin- 
cipality ; nor any injury be offered to the life or property, the wives 
and children, the religion and temples, of the Christians: that 
Theodemir shall freely deliver his seven cities, Orihuela, Valentola, 
Alicant, Mola, Vacasora, Bigerra (now Bejar), Ora (or Opta), 
and Lorca : that he shall not assist or entertain the enemies of the 
caliph, but shall faithfully communicate his knowledge of their 
hostile designs: that himself, and each of the Gothic nobles, shall 
annually pay one piece of gold, four measures of wheat, as many 
of barley, with a certain proportion of honey, oil, and vinegar; and 
that each of their vassals shall be taxed at one moiety of the said 
imposition. Given the fourth of Regeb, in the year of the Hegira 
ninety-four, and subscribed with the names of four Mussulman 
witnesses." Theodemir and his subjects were treated with uncom- 
mon lenity, but the rate of tribute appears to have fluctuated from a 
tenth to a fifth, according to the submission or obstinacy of the 
Christians. In this revolution many partial calamities were in- 
flicted by the carnal or religious passions of the enthusiasts. Some 
churches were profaned by the new worship, some relics or images 
were confounded with idols ; the rebels were put to the sword, and 
one town (an obscure place between Cordova and Seville) was 
razed to its foundations. Yet if we compare the invasion of Spain 
by the Goths, or its recovery by the kings of Castille and Arragon, 
we must applaud the moderation and discipline of the Arabian con- 
querors. 

The exploits of Musa were performed in the evening of life, 
though he affected to disguise his age by coloring with a red pow- 
der the whiteness of his beard. But in the love of action and glory 
his breast was still fired with the ardor of youth, and the pos- 
session of Spain was considered only as the first step to the mon- 
archy of Europe. With a powerful armament by sea and land 
he was preparing to repass the Pyrenees, to extinguish in Gaul and 
Italy the declining kingdoms of the Franks and Lombards, and to 
preach the unity of God on the altar of the Vatican. From there, 
subduing the barbarians of Germany, he proposed to follow the 
course of the Danube from its source to the Euxine Sea, to over- 
throw the Greek or Roman empire of Constantinople, and return- 
ing from Europe to Asia, to unite his new acquisitions with Anti- 



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318 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

och and the provinces of Syria. But his vast enterprise, perhaps of 
easy execution, must have seemed extravagant to vulgar minds; 
and the visionary conqueror was soon reminded of his dependence 
and servitude. The friends of Tarik had effectually stated his 
services and wrongs. At the court of Damascus the proceedings 
of Musa were blamed, his intentions were suspected, and his delay 
in complying with the first invitation was chastised by a harsher 
summons. In 714 an intrepid messenger of the caliph entered 
his camp at Lugo in Gallicia, and in the presence of the Sara- 
cens and Christians arrested the bridle of his horse. His own 
loyalty, or that of his troops, inculcated the duty of obedience; 
and his disgrace was alleviated by the recall of his rival and the 
permission of investing with his two governments his two sons, 
Abdallah and Abdul-Aziz. His long triumph from Ceuta to Da- 
mascus displayed the spoils of Africa and the treasures of Spain; 
four hundred Gothic nobles, with gold coronets and girdles, were 
distinguished in his train; and the number of male and female 
captives, selected for their birth or beauty, was computed at 
eighteen, or even at thirty, thousand persons. As soon as he 
reached Tiberias in Palestine he was apprised of the sickness and 
danger of the caliph by a private message from Soliman, his 
brother and presumptive heir, who wished to reserve for his own 
reign the spectacle of victory. Had Walid recovered, the delay of 
Musa would have been criminal ; he pursued his march, and found 
an enemy on the throne. In his trial before a partial judge against 
a popular antagonist he was convicted of vanity and falsehood, 
and a fine of two hundred thousand pieces of gold either exhausted 
his poverty or proved his rapaciousness. The unworthy treatment 
of Tarik was revenged by a similar indignity, and the veteran com- 
mander, after a public whipping, stood a whole day in the sun 
before the palace gate, till he obtained a decent exile, under the 
pious name of a pilgrimage to Mecca. The resentment of the 
caliph might have been satiated with the ruin of Musa, but his 
fears demanded the extirpation of a potent and injured family. A 
sentence of death was intimated with secrecy and speed to the 
trusty servants of the throne both in Africa and Spain, and the 
forms, if not the substance, of justice were superseded in this 
bloody execution. In the mosque or palace of Cordova Abdul-Aziz 
was slain by the swords of the conspirators; they accused their 
governor of claiming the honors of royalty, and his scandalous 



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ARABIA 319 

marriage with Egilona, the widow of Roderic, offended the 
prejudices both of the Christians and Moslems. By a refinement of 
cruelty the head of the son was presented to the father, with an 
insulting question whether he acknowledged the features of the 
rebel? " I know his features," he exclaimed, with indignation; " I 
assert his innocence, and I imprecate the same, a juster fate, against 
the authors of his death." The age and despair of Musa raised 
him above the power of kings, and he expired at Mecca of the 
anguish of a broken heart. His rival was more favorably treated. 
His services were forgiven, and Tarik was permitted to mingle 
with the crowd of slaves. I am ignorant whether Count Julian 
was rewarded with the death which he deserved indeed, though not 
from the hands of the Saracens ; but the tale of their ingratitude to 
the sons of Witiza is disproved by the most unquestionable evi- 
dence. The two royal youths were reinstated in the private patri- 
mony of their father, but on the decease of Eba, the elder, his 
daughter was unjustly despoiled of her portion by the violence of 
her uncle, Sigebut. The Gothic maid pleaded her cause before the 
Caliph Hashim, and obtained the restitution of her inheritance, 
but she was given in marriage to a noble Arabian, and their two 
sons, Isaac and Ibrahim, were received in Spain with the considera- 
tion that was due to their origin and riches. 

A province is assimilated to the victorious state by the intro- 
duction of strangers and the imitative spirit of the natives; and 
Spain, which had been successively tinctured with Punic, and Ro- 
man, and Gothic blood, imbibed in a few generations the name and 
manners of the Arabs. The first conquerors, and the twenty suc- 
cessive lieutenants of the caliphs, were attended by a numerous 
train of civil and military followers, who preferred a distant for- 
tune to a narrow home. The private and public interest was pro- 
moted by the establishment of faithful colonies, and the cities of 
Spain were proud to commemorate the tribe or country of their 
Eastern progenitors. The victorious though motley bands of Tarik 
and Musa asserted, by the name of Spaniards, their original claim 
of conquest; yet they allowed their brethren of Egypt to share 
their establishments at Murcia and Lisbon. The royal legion of 
Damascus was planted at Cordova ; that of Emesa at Seville ; that 
of Kinnisrin or Chalcis at Jaen; that of Palestine at Algezire and 
Medina Sidonia. The natives of Yemen and Persia were scattered 
round Toledo and the inland country, and the fertile seats of 



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8*0 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

Granada were bestowed on ten thousand horsemen of Syria and 
Irak, the children of the purest and most noble of the Arabian 
tribes. A spirit of emulation, sometimes beneficial, more frequently 
dangerous, was nourished by these hereditary factions. Ten years 
after the conquest a map of the province was presented to the 
caliph showing the seas, rivers, and harbors, the inhabitants and 
the cities, the climate, soil and the mineral productions of the 
earth. In the space of two centuries the gifts of nature were im- 
proved by the agriculture, the manufactures, and the commerce of 
an industrious people, and the effects of their diligence have been 
magnified by the idleness of their fancy. The first of the Omay- 
yads who reigned in Spain solicited the support of the Christians; 
and in his edict of peace and protection he contents himself with a 
modest imposition of 10,000 ounces of gold, 10,000 pounds of sil- 
ver, 10,000 horses, as many mules, 1000 cuirasses, with an equal 
number of helmets and lances. The most powerful of his suc- 
cessors derived from the same kingdom the annual tribute of 12,- 
045,000 dinars or pieces of gold, about six millions of sterling 
money, a sum which, in the tenth century, most probably surpassed 
the united revenues of the Christian monarchs. His royal seat of 
Cordova contained 600 mosques, 900 baths, and 200,000 houses; 
he gave laws to 80 cities of the first, to 300 of the second and third 
order ; and the fertile banks of the Guadalquivir were adorned with 
12,000 villages and hamlets. The Arabs might exaggerate the 
truth, but they created and they describe the most prosperous era 
of the riches, the cultivation, and the populousness of Spain. 

The wars of the Moslems were sanctified by the Prophet; 
but among the various precepts and examples of his life the 
caliphs selected the lessons of toleration that might tend to disarm 
the resistance of the unbelievers. Arabia was the temple and 
patrimony of the God of Mohammed; but he beheld with less 
jealousy and affection the nations of the earth. The polytheists 
and idolaters who were ignorant of his name might be lawfully 
extirpated by his votaries, but a wise policy supplied the obligation 
of justice ; and after some acts of intolerant zeal the Mohammedan 
conquerors of Hindostan have spared the pagodas of that devout 
and populous country. The disciples of Abraham, of Moses, and 
of Jesus were solemnly invited to accept the " more perfect " reve- 
lation of Mohammed ; but if they preferred the payment of a mod- 
erate tribute, they were entitled to the freedom of conscience and 



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ARABIA 821 

religious worship. In a field of battle the forfeit lives of the pris- 
oners were redeemed by the profession of Islam; the females were 
bound to embrace the religion of their masters, and a race of sin- 
cere proselytes was gradually multiplied by the education of the 
infant captives. But the millions of African and Asiatic converts 
who swelled the native band of the faithful Arabs must have been 
allured, rather than constrained, to declare their belief in one God 
and the Apostle of God. By the repetition of a sentence and the 
fact of a ceremony the subject or the slave, the captive or the crimi- 
nal, arose in a moment the free and equal companion of the vic- 
torious Moslems. Every sin was expiated, every engagement was 
dissolved : the vow of celibacy was superseded by the indulgence of 
nature; the active spirits who slept in the cloister were awakened 
by the trumpet of the Saracens ; and in the convulsion of the world 
every member of a new society ascended to the natural level of his 
capacity and courage. The minds of the multitude were tempted 
by the invisible as well as temporal blessings of the Arabian 
Prophet, and charity will hope that many of his proselytes enter- 
tained a serious conviction of the truth and sanctity of his revela- 
tion. In the eyes of an inquisitive polytheist it must appear worthy 
of the human and the divine nature. More pure than the system 
of Zoroaster, more liberal than the law of Moses, the religion of 
Mohammed might seem less inconsistent with reason than the creed 
of mystery and superstition which in the seventh century disgraced 
the simplicity of the Gospel. 

In the extensive provinces of Persia and Africa the national 
religion has been eradicated by the Mohammedan faith. The am- 
biguous theology of the Magi stood alone among the sects of 
the East; but the profane writings of Zoroaster might, under the 
reverend name of Abraham, be dexterously connected with the 
chain of divine revelation. Their evil principle, the demon Ahri- 
man, might be represented as the rival or as the creature of the 
god of light. The temples of Persia were devoid of images, but 
the worship of the sun and of fire might be stigmatized as a gross 
and criminal idolatry. The milder sentiment was consecrated by 
the practice of Mohammed and the prudence of the caliphs; the 
Magians or Ghebers were ranked with the Jews and Christians 
among the people of the written law; and as late as the third 
century of the Hegira the city of Herat will afford a lively contrast 
of private zeal and public toleration. Under the payment of an 



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82« ANCIENT EMPIRES 

annual tribute the Mohammedan law secured to the Ghebers of 
Herat their civil and religious liberties, but the recent and humble 
mosque was overshadowed by the antique splendor of the adjoining 
temple of fire. A fanatic imam deplored, in his sermons, the scan- 
dalous neighborhood, and accused the weakness or indifference of 
the faithful. Excited by his voice, the people assembled in tumult ; 
the two houses of prayer were consumed by the flames, but the 
vacant ground was immediately occupied by the foundation of a 
new mosque. The injured Magi appealed to the sovereign of 
Khorasan. He promised justice and relief; when, behold! four 
thousand citizens of Herat, of a grave character and mature age, 
unanimously swore that the idolatrous fane had never existed; the 
inquisition was silenced, and their conscience was satisfied (says 
the historian Mirchond) with this holy and meritorious perjury. 
But the greatest part of the temples of Persia were ruined by the 
insensible and general desertion of their votaries. It was insensible, 
since it is not accompanied with any memorial of time or place, of 
persecution or resistance. It was general, since the whole realm, 
from Shiraz to Samarcand, imbibed the faith of the Koran; and 
the preservation of the native tongue reveals the descent of the 
Mohammedans of Persia. In the mountains and deserts an ob- 
stinate race of unbelievers adhered to the superstition of their 
fathers, and a faint tradition of the Magian theology is kept alive 
in the province of Kerman, along the banks of the Indus, among 
the exiles of Surat, and in the colony which, in more recent times, 
was planted by Shah Abbas at the gates of Isphahan. The chief 
pontiff has retired to Mount Elburz, eighteen leagues from the 
city of Yezd. The perpetual fire (if it continue to burn) is inac- 
cessible to the profane, but his residence is the school, the oracle, 
and the pilgrimage of the Ghebers, whose hard and uniform 
features attest the unmingled purity of their blood. Under the 
jurisdiction of their elders eighty thousand families maintain an 
innocent and industrious life. Their subsistence is derived from 
some curious manufactures and mechanic trades; and they culti- 
vate the earth with the fervor of a religious duty. Their ignorance 
withstood the despotism of Shah Abbas, who demanded with 
threats and tortures the prophetic books of Zoroaster; and this 
obscure remnant of the Magians is spared by the moderation or 
contempt of their present sovereigns. 

The northern coast of Africa is the only land in which the 



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ARABIA 823 

light of the Gospel, after a long and perfect establishment, has been 
totally extinguished. The arts which had been taught by Carthage 
and Rome were involved in a cloud of ignorance; the doctrine of 
Cyprian and Augustine was no longer studied. Five hundred 
episcopal churches were overturned by the hostile fury of the Do- 
natists, the Vandals, and the Moors. The zeal and numbers of the 
clergy declined, and the people, without discipline, or knowledge, 
or hope, submissively sank under the yoke of the Arabian Prophet. 
Within fifty years after the expulsion of the Greeks a lieutenant of 
Africa informed the caliph that the tribute of the infidels was 
abolished by their conversion; and, though he sought to disguise 
his fraud and rebellion, his specious pretense was drawn from the 
rapid and extensive progress of the Mohammedan faith. In the 
next age an extraordinary mission of five bishops was detached 
from Alexandria to Cairoan. They were ordained by the Jacobite 
patriarch to cherish and revive the dying embers of Christianity; 
but the interposition of a foreign prelate, a stranger to the Latins, 
an enemy to the Catholics, supposes the decay and dissolution of 
the African hierarchy. It was no longer the time when the suc- 
cessor of St. Cyprian, at the head of a numerous synod, could main- 
tain an equal contest with the ambition of the Roman Pontiff. In 
the eleventh century the unfortunate priest who was seated on the 
ruins of Carthage implored the arms and the protection of the 
Vatican; and he bitterly complains that his naked body had been 
scourged by the Saracens, and that his authority was disputed by 
the four suffragans, the tottering pillars of his throne. Two epistles 
of Gregory VII. are destined to soothe the distress of the Cath- 
olics and the pride of a Moorish prince. The Pope assured the 
sultan that they both worship the same God, and may hope to meet 
in the bosom of Abraham; but the complaint that three bishops 
could no longer be found to consecrate a brother announces the 
speedy and inevitable ruin of the episcopal order. The Christians 
of Africa and Spain had long since submitted to the practice of 
circumcision and the legal abstinence from wine and pork, and the 
name of Mozarabes (adoptive Arabs) was applied to their civil or 
religious conformity. About the middle of the twelfth century 
the worship of Christ and the succession of pastors were abolished 
along the coast of Barbary and in the kingdoms of Cordova and 
Seville, of Valencia and Granada. The throne of the Almohades, 
or Unitarians, was founded on the blindest fanaticism, and their 



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324 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

extraordinary rigor might be provoked or justified by the recent 
victories and intolerant zeal of the princes of Sicily and Castille, 
of Arragon and Portugal. The faith of the Mozarabes was occa- 
sionally revived by the Papal missionaries, and on the landing of 
Charles V. some families of Latin Christians were encouraged to 
rear their heads at Tunis and Algiers. But the seed of the Gospel 
was quickly eradicated, and the long province from Tripoli to the 
Atlantic has lost all memory of the language and religion of Rome. 
After the revolution of eleven centuries the Jews and Chris- 
tians of the Turkish Empire enjoy the liberty of conscience which 
was granted by the Arabian caliphs. During the first age of 
the conquest they suspected the loyalty of the Catholics, whose 
name of Melchites betrayed their secret attachment to the Greek 
emperor, while the Nestorians and Jacobites, his inveterate ene- 
mies, approved themselves the sincere and voluntary friends of the 
Mohammedan government. Yet this partial jealousy was healed 
by time and submission, the churches of Egypt were shared with 
the Catholics, and all the Oriental sects were included in the com- 
mon benefits of toleration. The rank, the immunities, the domestic 
jurisdiction of the patriarchs, the bishops, and the clergy were pro- 
tected by the civil magistrate: the learning of individuals recom- 
mended them to the employments of secretaries and physicians: 
they were enriched by the lucrative collection of the revenue; and 
their merit was sometimes raised to the command of cities and 
provinces. A caliph of the house of Abbas was heard to declare 
that the Christians were most worthy of trust in the administra- 
tion of Persia. " The Moslems," said he, " will abuse their present 
fortune; the Magians regret their fallen greatness; and the Jews 
are impatient for their approaching deliverance." But the slaves 
of despotism are exposed to the alternatives of favor and disgrace. 
The captive churches of the East have been afflicted in every age 
by the avarice or bigotry of their rulers, and the ordinary and legal 
restraints must be offensive to the pride, or the zeal, of the Chris- 
tians. About two hundred years after Mohammed they were 
separated from their fellow-subjects by a turban or girdle of a less 
honorable color; instead of horses or mules, they were condemned 
to ride on asses, in the attitude of women. Their public and private 
buildings were measured by a diminutive standard; in the streets 
or the baths it is their duty to give way or bow down before the 
meanest of the people; and their testimony is rejected, if it may 



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ARABIA 825 

tend to the prejudice of a true believer. The pomp of processions, 
the sound of bells or of psalmody, is interdicted in their worship, a 
decent reverence for the national faith is imposed on their sermons 
and conversations, and the sacrilegious attempt to enter a mosque, 
or to seduce a Mussulman, will not be suffered to escape with im- 
punity. In a time, however, of tranquillity and justice the 
Christians have never been compelled to renounce the Gospel or to 
embrace the Koran; but the punishment of death is inflicted upon 
the apostates who have professed and deserted the law of Moham- 
med. The martyrs of Cordova provoked the sentence of the cadi 
by the public confession of their inconstancy, or their passionate 
invectives against the person and religion of the Prophet. 

At the end of the first century of the Hegira the caliphs were 
the most potent and absolute monarchs of the globe. Their pre- 
rogative was not circumscribed, either in right or in fact by the 
power of the nobles, the freedom of the commons, the privileges of 
the church, the votes of a senate, or the memory of a free constitu- 
tion. The authority of the companions of Mohammed expired with 
their lives ; and the chiefs or emirs of the Arabian tribes left behind, 
in the desert, the spirit of equality and independence. The regal 
and sacerdotal characters were united in the successors of Moham- 
med, and if the Koran was the rule of their actions, they were the 
supreme judges and interpreters of that divine book. They reigned 
by the right of conquest over the nations of the East, to whom the 
name of liberty was unknown, and who were accustomed to ap- 
plaud in their tyrants the acts of violence and severity that were 
exercised at their own expense. Under the last of the Omayyads 
the Arabian Empire extended two hundred days' journey from east 
to west, from the confines of Tatary and India to the shores of the 
Atlantic Ocean. And if we retrench the sleeve of the robe, as it 
is styled by their writers, the long and narrow province of Africa, 
the solid and compact dominion from Fargana to Aden, from Tar- 
sus to Surat, will spread on every side to the measure of four or 
five months of the march of a caravan. We should vainly seek the 
indissoluble union and easy obedience that pervaded the govern- 
ment of Augustus and the Antonines ; but the progress of the Mo- 
hammedan religion diffused over this ample space a general 
resemblance of manners and opinions. The language and laws of 
the Koran were studied with equal devotion at Samarcand and 
Seville; the Moor and the Indian embraced as countrymen and 



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826 



ANCIENT EMPIRES 



brothers in the pilgrimage of Mecca, and the Arabian language was 
adopted as the popular idiom in all the provinces to the westward 
of the Tigris. 

When the Arabs first issued from the desert they must have 
been surprised at the ease and rapidity of their own success. But 
when they advanced in the career of victory to the banks of the 
Indus and the summit of the Pyrenees; when they had repeatedly 
tried the edge of their scimiters and the energy of their faith, they 
might be equally astonished that any nation could resist their in- 
vincible arms, that any boundary should confine the dominion of 




the successor of the Prophet. The confidence of soldiers and 
fanatics may indeed be excused, since the calm historian of the 
present hour who strives to follow the rapid course of the Saracens 
must study to explain by what means the church and state were 
saved from this impending, and, as it should seem, from this in- 
evitable danger. The deserts of Scythia and Sarmatia might be 
guarded by their extent, their climate, their poverty, and the cour- 
age of the northern shepherds ; China was remote and inaccessible ; 
but the greatest part of the temperate zone was subject to the Mo- 
hammedan conquerors, the Greeks were exhausted by the calamities 
of war and the loss of their fairest provinces, and the barbarians 



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ARABIA 327 

of Europe might justly tremble at the precipitate fall of the Gothic 
monarchy. In this inquiry I shall unfold the events that rescued 
our ancestors of Britain and their neighbors of Gaul from the civil 
and religious yoke of the Koran; that protected the majesty of 
Rome, and delayed the servitude of Constantinople; that invigor- 
ated the defense of the Christians, and scattered among their ene- 
mies the seeds of division and decay. 

Forty-six years after the flight of Mohammed from Mecca 
his disciples appeared in arms under the walls of Constantinople. 
They were animated by a genuine or fictitious saying of the 
Prophet, that to the first army which besieged the city of the 
Caesars their sins were forgiven : the long series of Roman triumphs 
would be meritoriously transferred to the conquerors of New 
Rome ; and the wealth of nations was deposited in this well-chosen 
seat of royalty and commerce. No sooner had the Caliph 
Moawiyah suppressed his rivals and established his throne than he 
aspired to expiate the guilt of civil blood by the success and glory 
of this holy expedition; his preparations by sea and land were 
adequate to the importance of the object; his standard was in- 
trusted to Sufyan, a veteran warrior, but the troops were encour- 
aged by the example and presence of Yezid, the son and pre- 
sumptive heir of the commander of the faithful. The Greeks 
had little to hope, nor had their enemies any reasons to fear, from 
the courage and vigilance of the reigning emperor, who disgraced 
the name of Constantine, and imitated only the inglorious years of 
his grandfather, Heraclius. Without delay or opposition the naval 
forces of the Saracens passed through the unguarded channel of 
the Hellespont, which even now, under the feeble and disorderly 
government of the Turks, is maintained as the natural bulwark 
of the capital. The Arabian fleet cast anchor and the troops were 
disembarked near the palace of Hebdomon, seven miles from the 
city. During many days, from the dawn of light to the evening, 
the line of assault was extended from the golden gate to the east- 
ern promontory, and the foremost warriors were impelled by the 
weight and effort of the succeeding columns. But the besiegers had 
formed an insufficient estimate of the strength and resources of 
Constantinople. The solid and lofty walls were guarded by num- 
bers and discipline ; the spirit of the Romans was rekindled by the 
last danger of their religion and empire; the fugitives from the 
conquered provinces more successfully renewed the defense of 



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828 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

Damascus and Alexandria; and the Saracens were dismayed by 
the strange and prodigious effects of artificial fire. This firm and 
effectual resistance diverted their arms to the more easy attempts of 
plundering the European and Asiatic coasts of the Propontis ; and, 
after keeping the sea from the month of April to that of Septem- 
ber, in the winter of 668 they retreated fourscore miles from 
the capital to the Isle of Cyzicus, in which they had established 
their magazine of spoil and provisions. So patient was their per- 
severance, or so languid were their operations, that they repeated 
in the six following summers the same attack and retreat, with a 
gradual abatement of hope and vigor, till the mischances of ship- 
wreck and disease, of the sword and of fire, compelled them to 
relinquish the fruitless enterprise. They might bewail the loss, or 
commemorate the martyrdom, of thirty thousand Moslems, who 
fell in the siege of Constantinople ; and the solemn funeral of Abu 
Ayub, or Job, excited the curiosity of the Christians themselves. 
That venerable Arab, one of the last of the companions of Moham- 
med, was numbered among the ansars, or auxiliaries, of Medina, 
who sheltered the head of the flying Prophet. In his youth he 
fought, at Beder and Ohud, under the holy standard ; in his mature 
age he was the friend and follower of Ali ; and the last remnant of 
his strength and life was consumed in a distant and dangerous war 
against the enemies of the Koran. His memory was revered, but 
the place of his burial was neglected and unknown during a period 
of 780 years, till the conquest of Constantinople by Mohammed II. 
in 1453. A vision (for such are the manufacture of every re- 
ligion) revealed the holy spot at the foot of the walls and the 
bottom of the harbor, and the Mosque of Ayub has been deservedly 
chosen for the simple and martial inauguration of the Turkish 
sultans. 

The result of the siege revived, both in the East and West, 
the reputation of the Roman arms and cast a momentary shade 
over the glories of the Saracens. The Greek ambassador was 
favorably received at Damascus, in a general council of the emirs 
or Koreish ; a peace, or truce, of thirty years was ratified between 
the two empires, and the stipulation of an annual tribute, fifty 
horses of a noble breed, fifty slaves, and three thousand pieces of 
gold, degraded the majesty of the commander of the faithful. The 
aged caliph was desirous of possessing his dominions and ending 
his days in tranquillity and repose: while the Moors and Indians 



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ARABIA 329 

trembled at his name, his palace and city of Damascus was insulted 
by the Maronites, of Mount Libanus (Lebanon), the firmest bar- 
rier of the empire, till they were disarmed and transplanted by the 
suspicious policy of the Greeks. After the revolt of Arabia and Per- 
sia the house of Omayyah was reduced to the kingdoms of Syria and 
Egypt; their distress and fear enforced their compliance with the 
pressing demands of the Christians, and the tribute was increased 
to a slave, a horse, and a thousand pieces of gold, for each of the 
365 days of the solar year. But as soon as the empire was again 
united by the arms and policy of Abdul-Malik, he disclaimed a 
badge of servitude not less injurious to his conscience than to his 
pride; he discontinued the payment of the tribute, and the resent- 
ment of the Greeks was disabled from action by the mad tyranny 
of the second Justinian, the just rebellion of his subjects, and the 
frequent change of his antagonists and successors. Till the reign 
of Abdul-Malik (685-705) the Saracens had been content with the 
free possession of the Persian and Roman treasures, in the coins of 
Chosroes and Caesar. By the command of that caliph a national 
mint was established, both for silver and gold, and the inscription 
of the dinar, though it might be censured by some timorous casu- 
ists, proclaimed the unity of the God of Mohammed. Under the 
reign of the Caliph Walid the Greek language and characters were 
excluded from the accounts of the public revenue. If this change 
was productive of the invention or familiar use of our present 
numerals, the Arabic or Indian ciphers, as they are commonly 
styled, a regulation of office has promoted the most important dis- 
coveries of arithmetic, algebra, and the mathematical sciences. 

While the Caliph Walid sat idle on the throne of Damascus, 
while his lieutenants achieved the conquest of Transoxiana and 
Spain, a third army of Saracens overspread the provinces of Asia 
Minor in the years 716 to 718 and approached the Byzantine capi- 
tal. But the disgrace of the second siege was reserved for his 
brother, Soliman, whose ambition appears to have been quickened 
by a more active and martial spirit. In the revolutions of the Greek 
Empire, after the tyrant Justinian had been punished and avenged, 
an humble secretary, Anastasius or Artemius, was promoted by 
chance or merit to the vacant purple. He was alarmed by the 
sound of war, and his ambassador returned from Damascus with 
the tremendous news that the Saracens were preparing an arma- 
ment by sea and land, such as would transcend the experience of 



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380 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

the past, or the belief of the present age. The precautions of Anas- 
tasius were not unworthy of his station or of the impend- 
ing danger. He issued a peremptory mandate that all persons 
who were not provided with the means of subsistence for a three 
years' siege should evacuate the city: the public granaries and 
arsenals were abundantly replenished; the walls were restored and 
strengthened; and the engines for casting stones, or darts, or fire, 
were stationed along the ramparts, or in the brigantines of war, of 
which an additional number was hastily constructed. To prevent 
is safer, as well as more honorable, than to repel, an attack; and 
a design was meditated, above the usual spirit of the Greeks, of 
burning the naval stores of the enemy, the cypress timber that had 
been hewn in Mount Lebanon, and was piled along the seashore of 
Phoenicia, for the service of the Egyptian fleet. This generous 
enterprise was defeated by the cowardice or treachery of the troops, 
who, in the new language of the empire, were styled of the Obse- 
quian Theme. They murdered their chief, deserted their standard 
in the Isle of Rhodes, dispersed themselves over the adjacent conti- 
nent, and deserved pardon or reward by investing with the purple a 
simple officer of the revenue. The name of Theodosius might 
recommend him to the senate and people, but after some months he 
sank into a cloister, in 717, resigning to the firmer hand of Leo the 
Isaurian the defense of the capital and empire. The most for- 
midable of the Saracens, Moslemah, the brother of the caliph, 
was advancing at the head of 120,000 Arabs and Persians, the 
greater part mounted on horses or camels ; and the successful sieges 
of Tyana, Amorium, and Pergamus were of sufficient duration to 
exercise their skill and to elevate their hopes. At the well-known 
passage of Abydus, on the Hellespont, the Mohammedan arms 
were transported, for the first time, from Asia to Europe. From 
there, wheeling round the Thracian cities of the Propontis, Mosle- 
mah invested Constantinople on the land side, surrounded his camp 
with a ditch and rampart, prepared and planted his engines of as- 
sault, and declared, by words and actions, a patient resolution of 
awaiting the return of seed-time and harvest should the obstinacy 
of the besieged prove equal to his own. The Greeks would gladly 
have ransomed their religion and empire by a fine or assessment of 
a piece of gold on the head of each inhabitant of the city, but the 
liberal offer was rejected with disdain, and the presumption of 
Moslemah was exalted by the speedy approach and invincible force 



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8S2 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

of the fisheries supplied the wants, and even the luxury, of the 
inhabitants. But the calamities of famine and disease were soon 
felt by the troops of Moslemah, and as the former was miserably 
assuaged, so the latter was dreadfully propagated, by the pernicious 
nutriment which hunger compelled them to extract from the most 
unclean or unnatural food. The spirit of conquest, and even of 
enthusiasm, was extinct: the Saracens could no longer straggle 
beyond their lines, either singly or in small parties, without ex- 
posing themselves to the merciless retaliation of the Thracian 
peasants. An army of Bulgarians was attracted from the Danube 
by the gifts and promises of Leo, and these savage auxiliaries made 
some atonement for the evils which they had inflicted on the empire 
by the defeat and slaughter of 22,000 Asiatics. A report was dex- 
terously scattered that the Franks, the unknown nations of the 
Latin world, were arming by sea and land in the defense of the 
Christian cause, and their formidable aid was expected with far 
different sensations in the camp and city. At length, after a siege 
of thirteen months, the hopeless Moslemah received from the caliph 
the welcome permission of retreat. The march of the Arabian 
cavalry over the Hellespont and through the provinces of Asia was 
executed without delay or molestation; but an army of their 
brethren had been cut in pieces on the side of Bithynia, and the 
remains of the fleet were so repeatedly damaged by tempest and 
fire that only five galleys entered the port of Alexandria to relate 
the tale of their various and almost incredible disasters. 

In the two sieges the deliverance of Constantinople may be 
chiefly ascribed to the novelty, the terrors, and the real efficacy of 
the " Greek fire." The important secret of compounding and di- 
recting this artificial flame was imparted by Callinicus, a native of 
Heliopolis in Syria, who deserted from the service of the caliph to 
that of the emperor. The skill of a chemist and engineer was 
equivalent to the succor of fleets and armies; and this discovery 
or improvement of the military art was fortunately reserved for 
the distressful period when the degenerate Romans of the East 
were incapable of contending with the warlike enthusiasm and 
youthful vigor of the Saracens. The historian who presumes to 
analyze this extraordinary composition should suspect his own 
ignorance and that of his Byzantine guides, so prone to the marvel- 
ous, so careless, and, in this instance, so jealous of the truth. From 
their obscure, and perhaps fallacious, hints it should seem that the 



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ARABIA 888 

principal ingredient of the Greek fire was naphtha, mingled, I know 
not by what methods or in what proportions, with sulphur and 
with the pitch that is extracted from evergreen firs. From this 
mixture, which produced a thick smoke and a loud explosion, pro- 
ceeded a fierce and obstinate flame, which not only rose in perpen- 
dicular ascent, but likewise burned with equal vehemence in 
descent or lateral progress; instead of being extinguished, it was 
nourished and quickened by the element of water ; and sand, urine, 
or vinegar were the only remedies that could damp the fury of 
this powerful agent, which was justly denominated by the Greeks 
the liquid, or the maritime, fire. For the annoyance of the enemy 
it was employed with equal effect by sea and land, in battles or in 
sieges. It was either poured from the rampart in large boilers, or 
launched in red-hot balls of stone and iron, or darted in arrows 
and javelins, twisted round with flax and tow, which had deeply 
imbibed the inflammable oil; sometimes it was deposited in fire- 
ships, the victims and instruments of a more ample revenge, and 
was most commonly blown through long tubes of copper which 
were planted on the prow of a galley, and fancifully shaped into 
the mouths of savage monsters, that seemed to vomit a stream 
of liquid and consuming fire. This important art was preserved 
at Constantinople as the palladium of the state: the galleys and 
artillery might occasionally be lent to the allies of Rome, but the 
composition of the Greek fire was concealed with the most jealous 
scruple, and the terror of the enemies was increased and prolonged 
by their ignorance and surprise. In the treatise of the administra- 
tion of the empire the royal author suggests the answers and ex- 
cuses that might best elude the indiscreet curiosity and importunate 
demands of the barbarians. They should be told that the mystery 
of the Greek fire has been revealed by an angel to the first and 
greatest of the Constantines, with a sacred injunction that this gift 
of Heaven, this peculiar blessing of the Romans, should never 
be communicated to any foreign nation; that the prince and sub- 
ject were alike bound to religious silence under the temporal and 
spiritual penalties of treason and sacrilege; and that the impious 
attempt would provoke the sudden and supernatural vengeance of 
the God of the Christians. By these precautions the secret was 
confined, above four hundred years, to the Romans of the East; 
and at the end of the eleventh century the Pisans, to whom every 
sea and every art were familiar, suffered the effects, without un- 



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884 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

derstanding the composition, of the Greek fire. It was at length 
either discovered or stolen by the Mohammedans; and in the 
holy wars of Syria and Egypt they retorted an invention, contrived 
against themselves, on the heads of the Christians. A knight who 
despised the swords and lances of the Saracens relates, with heart- 
felt sincerity, his own fears, and those of his companions, at the 
sight and sound of the mischievous engine that discharged a tor- 
rent of the Greek fire, the feu Gregeois, as it is styled by the more 
early French writers. It came flying through the air, says Join- 
ville, like a winged long-tailed dragon, about the thickness of a 
hogshead, with the report of thunder and the velocity of lightning ; 
and the darkness of the night was dispelled by this deadly illumina- 
tion. The use of the Greek, or, as it might now be called, of the 
Saracen fire, was continued to the middle of the fourteenth cen- 
tury, when the scientific or casual compound of niter, sulphur, and 
charcoal effected a new revolution in the art of war and the his- 
tory of mankind. 

Constantinople and the Greek fire might exclude the Arabs 
from the eastern entrance of Europe, but in the West, on the side 
of the Pyrenees, the provinces of Gaul were threatened and in- 
vaded by the conquerors of Spain. The decline of the French 
monarchy invited the attack of these insatiate fanatics. The de- 
scendants of Clovis had lost the inheritance of his martial and 
ferocious spirit, and their misfortune or demerit has affixed the 
epithet of lazy to the last kings of the Merovingian race. They 
ascended the throne without power, and sank into the grave with- 
out a name. A country palace in the neighborhood of Compiegne 
was allotted for their residence or prison, but each year, in the 
month of March or May, they were conducted in a wagon drawn 
by oxen to the assembly of the Franks, to give audience to for- 
eign ambassadors, and to ratify the acts of the mayor of the 
palace. That domestic officer was become the minister of the 
nation and the master of the prince. A public employment was 
converted into the patrimony of a private family. The elder Pepin 
left a king of mature years under the guardianship of his own 
widow and her child, and these feeble regents were forcibly dis- 
possessed by the most active of his bastards. A government, half 
savage and half corrupt, was almost dissolved, and the tributary 
dukes and provincial counts, and the territorial lords were tempted 
to despise the weakness of the monarch and to imitate the ambition 



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886 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

of the ocean. He passed without opposition the Garonne and Dor- 
dogne, which unite their waters in the Gulf of Bourdeaux; but he 
found beyond those rivers the camp of the intrepid Eudes, who had 
formed a second army and sustained a second defeat, so fatal to 
the Christians that, according to their sad confession, God alone 
could reckon the number of the slain. The victorious Saracen 
overran the provinces of Aquitaine, whose Gallic names are dis- 
guised, rather than lost, in the modern appellations of Perigord, 
Saintonge, and Poitou: his standards were planted on the walls, 
or at least before the gates, of Tours and of Sens, and his de- 
tachments overspread the kingdom of Burgundy as far as the well- 
known cities of Lyons and Besancon. The memory of these dev- 
astations (for Abd ar-Rahman did not spare the country or the 
people) was long preserved by tradition; and the invasion of 
France by the Moors or Mohammedans affords the ground-work 
of those fables which have been so wildly disfigured in the ro- 
mances of chivalry and so elegantly adorned by the Italian muse. 
In the decline of society and art the deserted cities could supply a 
slender booty to the Saracens ; their richest spoil was found in the 
churches and monasteries, which they stripped of their ornaments 
and delivered to the flames: and the tutelar saints, both Hilary of 
Poitiers and Martin of Tours, forgot their miraculous powers in 
the defense of their own sepulchers. A victorious line of march 
had been prolonged above a thousand miles from the rock of 
Gibraltar to the banks of the Loire; the repetition of an equal space 
would have carried the Saracens to the confines of Poland and the 
Highlands of Scotland ; the Rhine is not more impassable than the 
Nile or Euphrates, and the Arabian fleet might have sailed without 
a naval combat into the mouth of the Thames. Perhaps the inter- 
pretation of the Koran would now be taught in the schools of 
Oxford, and her pulpits might demonstrate to a circumcised people 
the sanctity and truth of the revelation of Mohammed 



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Chapter IX 

FALL OF THE MOSLEM EMPIRE 

FROM such calamities was Christendom delivered by the genius 
and fortune of one man. Charles, the illegitimate son of 
the elder Pepin, was content with the titles of Mayor or Duke 
of the Franks; but he deserved to become the father of a line of 
kings. In the twenty-four years from 771 to 814 he restored 
the dignity of the throne, and the rebels of Germany and Gaul 
were successively crushed by the activity of a warrior, who, 
in the same campaign, could display his banner on the Elbe, 
the Rhone, and the shores of the ocean. In the public danger 
he was summoned by the voice of his country, and his rival, 
the Duke of Aquitaine, was reduced to appear among the fugi- 
tives and suppliants. " Alas ! " exclaimed the Franks, " what a 
misfortune! what an indignity! We have long heard of the 
name and conquests of the Arabs; we were apprehensive of their 
attack from the East ; they have now conquered Spain, and invade 
our country on the side of the West. Yet their numbers, and 
(since they have no buckler) their arms, are inferior to our own." 
" If you will follow my advice/' replied the prudent mayor of the 
palace, "you will not interrupt their march, nor precipitate your 
attack. They are like a torrent, which it is dangerous to stem in 
its career. The thirst of riches, and the consciousness of success, 
redouble their valor, and valor is of more avail than arms or 
numbers. Be patient till they have loaded themselves with the 
encumbrance of wealth. The possession of wealth will divide 
their councils and insure your victory." This subtle policy is per- 
haps a refinement of the Arabian writers; and the situation of 
Charles will suggest a more narrow and selfish motive of procras- 
tination — the secret desire of humbling the pride and wasting 
the provinces of the rebel Duke of Aquitaine. It is yet more 
probable that the delays of Charles were inevitable and reluctant. 
A standing army was unknown under the first and second race; 
more than half the kingdom was now in the hands of the Sara- 

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838 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

ccns; according to their respective situation, the Franks of Neus- 
tria and Austrasia were too conscious or too careless of the im- 
pending danger; and the voluntary aids of the Gepidae and 
Germans were separated by a long interval from the standard of 
the Christian general. No sooner had he collected his forces than 
he sought and found the enemy in the center of France, between 
Tours and Poitiers. His well-conducted march was covered by a 
range of hills, and Abd ar-Rahman appears to have been surprised 
by his unexpected presence. The nations of Asia, Africa, and 
Europe advanced with equal ardor to an encounter which would 
change the history of the world. In the first six days of desultory 
combat the horsemen and archers of the East maintained their 
advantage, but in the closer onset of the seventh day the Orien- 
tals were oppressed by the strength and stature of the Germans, 
who, with stout hearts, and " iron " hands, asserted the civil and 
religious freedom of their posterity. The epithet of Martel, the 
Hammer, which has been added to the name of Charles, is expres- 
sive of his weighty and irresistible strokes. The valor of Eudes 
was excited by resentment and emulation, and their companions, 
in the eye of history, are the true peers and paladins of French 
chivalry. After a battle in 732, in which Abd ar-Rahman was 
slain, the Saracens, in the close of the evening, retired to their 
camp. In the disorder and despair of the night the various tribes 
of Yemen and Damascus, of Africa and Spain, were provoked to 
turn their arms against each other; the remains of their host were 
suddenly dissolved, and each emir consulted his safety by a hasty 
and separate retreat. At the dawn of day the stillness of a hos- 
tile camp was suspected by the victorious Christians. On the re- 
port of their spies they ventured to explore the riches of the 
vacant tents, but if we except some celebrated relics, a small por- 
tion of the spoil was restored to the innocent and lawful owners. 
The joyful tidings were soon diffused over the Catholic world, 
and the monks of Italy could affirm and believe that 350,000 or 
375,000 of the Mohammedans had been crushed by the hammer 
of Charles, while no more than 1500 Christians were slain in the 
field of Tours. But this incredible tale is sufficiently disproved 
by the caution of the French general, who apprehended the snares 
and accidents of a pursuit, and dismissed his German allies to 
their native forests. The inactivity of a conqueror betrays the 
loss of strength and blood, and the most cruel execution is in- 



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840 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

gravity of his mind and countenance, that he was never seen to 
smile except on a day of battle. In the visible separation of par- 
ties the green was consecrated to the Fatimites; the Omayyads 
were distinguished by the white; and the black, as the most ad- 
verse, was naturally adopted by the Abbasids. Their turbans and 
garments were stained with that gloomy color: two black stan- 
dards, on pike staves nine cubits long, were borne aloft in the 
van of Abu Moslem ; and their allegorical names of the night and 
the shadow obscurely represented the indissoluble union and per- 
petual succession of the line of Hashim. From the Indus to the 
Euphrates the East was convulsed by the quarrel of the white 
and black factions : the Abbasids were most frequently victorious ; 
but their public success was clouded by the personal misfortune of 
their chief. The court of Damascus, awakening from a long slum- 
ber, resolved to prevent the pilgrimage of Mecca, which Ibrahim 
had undertaken with a splendid retinue, to recommend himself at 
once to the favor of the Prophet and of the people. A detach- 
ment of cavalry intercepted his march and arrested his person; 
and the unhappy Ibrahim, snatched away from the promise of 
untasted royalty, expired in iron fetters in the dungeons of Haran. 
His two younger brothers, Saffah and Almansor, eluded the 
search of the tyrant, and lay concealed at Cufa till the zeal of the 
people and the approach of his Eastern friends allowed them 
to expose their persons to the impatient public. On Friday, in 
the dress of a caliph, in the colors of the sect, Saffah proceeded 
with religious and military pomp to the mosque; ascending the 
pulpit, he prayed and preached as the lawful successor of Mo- 
hammed; and after his departure his kinsmen bound a willing 
people by an oath of fidelity. But it was on the banks of the Zab, 
and not in the mosque of Cufa, that this important controversy 
was determined. Every advantage appeared to be on the side of 
the white faction: the authority of established government, an 
army of 120,000 soldiers, against a sixth part of that number, and 
the presence and merit of the Caliph Merwan, the fourteenth and 
last of the house of Omayyah. Before his accession in 744 he 
had deserved, by his Georgian warfare, the honorable epithet 
of the ass of Mesopotamia ; and he might have been ranked among 
the greatest princes had not, says Abulfeda, the eternal order de- 
creed that moment for the ruin of his family, a decree against 
which all human prudence and fortitude must struggle in vain. 



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, THE NEW YORK 
'PUBLIC LIBRARY 

^ ASTOH, LENOX 
1 TILDEN FQCJNpATTr 



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ARABIA 841 

The orders of Merwan were mistaken or disobeyed ; the return of 
his horse, from which he had dismounted on a necessary occasion, 
impressed the belief of his death ; and the enthusiasm of the black 
squadrons was ably conducted by Abdallah, the uncle of his com- 
petitor. After an irretrievable defeat the caliph escaped to Mosul, 
but the colors of the Abbasids were displayed from the rampart ; he 
suddenly repassed the Tigris, cast a melancholy look on his palace 
of Haran, crossed the Euphrates, abandoned the fortifications of 
Damascus, and, without halting in Palestine, pitched his last and 
fatal camp at Busir, on the banks of the Nile. His speed was 
urged by the incessant diligence of Abdallah, who in every step of 
the pursuit acquired strength and reputation: the remains of the 
white faction were finally vanquished in Egypt; and the lance, 
which, on February 10, 750, terminated the life and anxiety of 
Merwan, was not unwelcome to the unfortunate chief. The mer- 
ciless inquisition of the conqueror eradicated the most distant 
branches of the hostile race; their bones were scattered, their 
memory was accursed, and the martyrdom of Hosein was abun- 
dantly revenged on the posterity of his tyrants. Fourscore of the 
Omayyads, who had yielded to the faith or clemency of their foes, 
were invited to a banquet at Damascus. The laws of hospitality 
were violated by a promiscuous massacre: the board was spread 
over their fallen bodies; and the festivity of the guests was en- 
livened by the music of their dying groans. By the event of the 
civil war the dynasty of the Abbasids was firmly establishel, but 
the Christians only could triumph in the mutual hatred and com- 
mon loss of the disciples of Mohammed. 

Yet the thousands who were swept away by the sword of 
war might have been speedily retrieved in the succeeding genera- 
tion if the consequences of the revolution had not tended to dis- 
solve the power and unity of the empire of the Saracens. In the 
proscription of the Omayyads a royal youth of the name of Abd 
ar-Rahman alone escaped the rage of his enemies, who hunted 
the wandering exile from the banks of the Euphrates to the valleys 
of Mount Atlas. His presence in the neighborhood of Spain re- 
vived the zeal of the white faction. The name and cause of the 
Abbasids had been first vindicated by the Persians: the West had 
been pure from civil arms ; and the servants of the abdicated fam- 
ily still held, by a precarious tenure, the inheritance of their lands 
and the offices of government. Strongly prompted by grati- 



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842 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

tude, indignation, and fear, they invited the grandson of the 
Caliph Hashim to ascend the throne of his ancestors, and in his 
desperate condition the extremes of rashness and prudence were 
almost the same. The acclamations of the people saluted his land- 
ing on the coast of Andalusia : and after a successful struggle Abd 
ar-Rahman established the throne of Cordova in 756, and was 
the father of the Omayyads of Spain, who for over 250 years 
reigned from the Atlantic to the Pyrenees. He slew in battle a lieu- 
tenant of the Abbasids who had invaded his dominions with a fleet 
and army; the head of Ala, in salt and camphor, was suspended 
by a daring messenger before the palace of Mecca ; and the Caliph 
Almansor rejoiced in his safety, that he was removed by seas and 
lands from such a formidable adversary. Their mutual designs 
or declarations of offensive war evaporated without effect, but in- 
stead of opening a door to the conquest of Europe, Spain was dis- 
severed from the trunk of the monarchy, engaged in perpetual 
hostility with the East, and inclined to peace and friendship with 
the Christian sovereigns of Constantinople and France. The ex- 
ample of the Omayyads was imitated by the real or fictitious pro- 
geny of Ali, the Edrisites of Mauritania, and the more powerful 
Fatimites of Africa and Egypt. In the tenth century the chair of 
Mohammed was disputed by three caliphs or commanders of the 
faithful, who reigned at Bagdad, Cairoan, and Cordova, excom- 
municated each other, and agreed only in a principle of discord 
that a sectary is more odious and criminal than an unbeliever. 

Mecca was the patrimony of the line of Hashim, yet the Ab- 
basids were never tempted to reside either in the birthplace or the 
city of the Prophet. Damascus was disgraced by the choice, and 
polluted with the blood, of the Omayyads; and after some hesita- 
tion Almansor, the brother and successor of Saffah, in 762 laid 
the foundations of Bagdad, the imperial seat of his posterity for 
five hundred years. The chosen spot is on the eastern bank of 
the Tigris, about fifteen miles above the ruins of Modain: the 
double wall was of a circular form, and such was the rapid in- 
crease of a capital, now dwindled to a provincial town, that the 
funeral of a popular saint might be attended by 800,000 men and 
60,000 women of Bagdad and the adjacent villages. In this " City 
of Peace," amid the riches of the East, the Abbasids soon disdained 
the abstinence and frugality of the first caliphs, and aspired to 
emulate the magnificence of the Persian kings. After his wars 



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844 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

palace, and gardens of Zehni. Twenty-five years, and above three 
millions sterling, were employed by the founder. His liberal taste 
invited the artists of Constantinople, the most skillful sculptors 
and architects of the age; and the buildings were sustained or 
adorned by twelve hundred columns of Spanish and African, of 
Greek and Italian marble. The hall of audience was incrusted 
with gold and pearls, and a great basin in the center was sur- 
rounded with the curious and costly figures of birds and quad- 
rupeds. In a lofty pavilion of the gardens one of these basins and 
fountains, so delightful in a sultry climate, was replenished not 
with water, but with the purest quicksilver. The seraglio of Abd 
ar-Rahman, his wives, concubines, and black eunuchs, amounted 
to 6300 persons, and he was attended to the field by a guard of 
12,000 horse, whose belts and scimiters were studded with gold. 
In a private condition our desires are perpetually repressed 
by poverty and subordination ; but the lives and labors of millions 
are devoted to the service of a despotic prince, whose laws are 
blindly obeyed and whose wishes are instantly gratified. Our 
imagination is dazzled by the splendid picture, and whatever may 
be the cool dictates of reason, there are few among us who would 
obstinately refuse a trial of the comforts and the cares of royalty. 
It may therefore be of some use to borrow the experience of the 
same Abd ar-Rahman, whose magnificence has perhaps excited our 
admiration and envy, and to transcribe an authentic memorial 
which was found in the closet of the deceased caliph. "I have 
now reigned above fifty years in victory or peace; beloved by my 
subjects, dreaded by my enemies, and respected by my allies. 
Riches and honors, power and pleasure, have waited on my call, 
nor does any earthly blessing appear to have been wanting to my 
felicity. In this situation I have diligently numbered the days of 
pure and genuine happiness which have fallen to my lot: they 
amount to fourteen. O man! place not thy confidence in this 
present world!" The luxury of the caliphs, so useless to their 
private happiness, relaxed the nerves and terminated the progress 
of the Arabian Empire. Temporal and spiritual conquest had been 
the sole occupation of the first successors of Mohammed; and 
after supplying themselves with the necessaries of life, the whole 
revenue was scrupulously devoted to that salutary work. The 
Abbasids were impoverished by the multitude of their wants and 
their contempt of economy. Instead of pursuing the great object 



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346 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

tudinous heroes are awed by the superior fierceness of the lions and 
tigers; and in their amorous enjoyments they are much inferior 
to the vigor of the grossest and most sordid quadrupeds. The 
teachers of wisdom are the true luminaries and legislators of a 
world, which, without their aid, would again sink in ignorance and 
barbarism." The zeal and curiosity of Almamon were imitated 
by succeeding princes of the line of Abbas: their rivals, the Fati- 
mites of Africa and the Omayyads of Spain, were the patrons of 
the learned, as well as the commanders of the faithful; the same 
royal prerogative was claimed by their independent emirs of the 
provinces; and their emulation diffused the taste and the rewards 
of science from Samarcand and Bochara to Fez and Cordova. 
The vizier of a sultan consecrated a sum of two hundred thousand 
pieces of gold to the foundation of a college at Bagdad, which he 
endowed with an annual revenue of fifteen thousand dinars. The 
fruits of instruction were communicated, perhaps at different times, 
to six thousand disciples of every degree, from the son of the 
noble to that of the mechanic : a sufficient allowance was provided 
for the indigent scholars, and the merit or industry of the pro- 
fessors was repaid with adequate stipends. In every city the pro- 
ductions of Arabic literature were copied and collected by the 
curiosity of the studious and the vanity of the rich. A private 
doctor refused the invitation of the Sultan of Bochara, because the 
carriage of his books would have required four hundred camels. 
The royal library of the Fatimites consisted of above one hundred 
thousand manuscripts, elegantly transcribed and splendidly bound, 
which were lent, without jealousy or avarice, to the students of 
Cairo. Yet this collection must appear moderate, if we can believe 
that the Omayyads of Spain had formed a library of six hundred 
thousand volumes, forty-four of which were employed in the mere 
catalogue. Their capital, Cordova, with the adjacent towns of 
Malaga, Almeria, and Murcia, had given birth to more than three 
hundred writers, and above seventy public libraries were opened in 
the cities of the Andalusian kingdom. The age of Arabian learn- 
ing continued above five hundred years, till the great eruption of 
the Moguls, and was coeval with the darkest and most slothful 
period of European annals ; but since the sun of science has arisen 
in the West, it should seem that the Oriental studies have lan- 
guished and declined. 

In the libraries of the Arabians, as in those of Europe, the far 



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ARABIA 847 

greater part of the innumerable volumes were possessed only of 
local value or imaginary merit. The shelves were crowded with 
orators and poets, whose style was adapted to the taste and man- 
ners of their countrymen ; with general and partial histories, which 
each revolving generation supplied with a new harvest of persons 
and events; with codes and commentaries of jurisprudence, which 
derived their authority from the law of the Prophet; with the in- 
terpreters of the Koran, and orthodox tradition; and with the 
whole theological tribe, polemics, mystics, scholastics, and moral- 
ists, the first or the last of writers, according to the different esti- 
mates of skeptics or believers. The works of speculation or 
science may be reduced to the four classes of philosophy, mathe- 
matics, astronomy, and physic. The sages of Greece were trans- 
lated and illustrated in the Arabic language, and some treatises, 
now lost in the original, have been recovered in the versions of 
the East, which possessed and studied the writings of Aristotle 
and Plato, of Euclid and Apollonius, of Ptolemy, Hippocrates, and 
Galen. Among the ideal systems which have varied with the fash- 
ion of the times, the Arabians adopted the philosophy of the 
Stagirite, alike intelligible or alike obscure for the readers of every 
age. Plato wrote for the Athenians, and his allegorical genius 
is too closely blended with the language and religion of Greece. 
After the fall of that religion, the Peripatetics, emerging from 
their obscurity, prevailed in the controversies of the Oriental sects, 
and their founder was long afterward restored by the Moham- 
medans of Spain to the Latin schools. The physics, both of the 
Academy and the Lyceum, as they are built, not on observation, 
but on argument, have retarded the progress of real knowledge. 
The metaphysics of infinite, or finite, spirit have too often been 
enlisted in the service of superstition. But the human faculties 
are fortified by the art and practice of dialectics; the ten predica- 
ments of Aristotle collect and methodize our ideas, and his syl- 
logism is the keenest weapon of dispute. It was dexterously 
wielded in the schools of the Saracens, but as it is more effectual 
for the detection of error than for the investigation of truth, it 
is not surprising that new generations of masters and disciples 
should still revolve in the same circle of logical argument. The 
mathematics are distinguished by a peculiar privilege, that, in 
the course of ages, they may always advance, and can never recede. 
But the ancient geometry, if I am not misinformed, was resumed 



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348 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

in the same state by the Italians of the fifteenth century ; and what- 
ever may be the origin of the name, the science of algebra is 
ascribed to the Grecian Diophantus by the modest testimony of the 
Arabs themselves. They cultivated with more success the sublime 
science of astronomy, which elevates the mind of man to disdain 
his diminutive planet and momentary existence. The costly in- 
struments of observation were supplied by the Caliph Almamon, 
and the land of the Chaldeans still afforded the same spacious level, 
the same unclouded horizon. In the plains of Sinaar, and a sec- 
ond time in those of Cufa, his mathematicians accurately measured 
a degree of the great circle of the earth, and determined at twenty- 
four thousand miles the entire circumference of our globe. From 
the reign of the Abbasids to that of the grandchildren of Tamer- 
lane, the stars, without the aid of glasses, were diligently observed ; 
and the astronomical tables of Bagdad, Spain, and Samarcand 
correct some minute errors, without daring to renounce the hy- 
pothesis of Ptolemy, without advancing a step toward the dis- 
covery of the solar system. In the Eastern courts the truths of 
science could be recommended only by ignorance and folly, and 
the astronomer would have been disregarded had he not debased 
his wisdom or honesty by the vain predictions of astrology. But 
in the science of medicine the Arabians have been deservedly ap- 
plauded. The names of Mesua and Geber, of Razis and Avicenna, 
are ranked with the Grecian masters; in the city of Bagdad 860 
physicians were licensed to exercise their lucrative profession; in 
Spain the life of the Catholic princes was intrusted to the skill of 
the Saracens, and the school of Salerno, their legitimate offspring, 
revived in Italy and Europe the precepts of the healing art. The 
success of each professor must have been influenced by personal 
and accidental causes, but we may form a less fanciful estimate of 
their general knowledge of anatomy, botany, and chemistry, the 
threefold basis of their theory and practice. A superstitious rever- 
ence for the dead confined both the Greeks and the Arabians to 
the dissection of apes and quadrupeds; the more solid and visible 
parts were known in the time of Galen, and the finer scrutiny of 
the human frame was reserved for the microscope and the injec- 
tions of modern artists. Botany is an active science, and the dis- 
coveries of the torrid zone might enrich the herbal of Dioscorides 
with two thousand plants. Some traditionary knowledge might 
be secreted in the temples and monasteries of Egypt ; much useful 



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ARABIA 349 

experience had been acquired in the practice of arts and manu- 
factures ; but the science of chemistry owes its origin and improve- 
ment to the industry of the Saracens. They first invented and 
named the alembic for the purposes of distillation, analyzed the 
substances of the three kingdoms of nature, tried the distinction 
and affinities of alkalies and acids, and converted the poisonous 
minerals into soft and salutary medicines. But the most eager 
search of Arabian chemistry was the transmutation of metals and 
the elixir of immortal health : the reason and the fortunes of thou- 
sands were evaporated in the crucibles of alchemy, and the con- 
summation of the great work was promoted by the worthy aid of 
mystery, fable, and superstition. 

But the Moslems deprived themselves of the principal bene- 
fits of a familiar intercourse with Greece and Rome, the knowledge 
of antiquity, the purity of taste, and the freedom of thought. Con- 
fident in the riches of their native tongue, the Arabians disdained 
the study of any foreign idiom. The Greek interpreters were 
chosen among their Christian subjects; they formed their transla- 
tions, sometimes on the original text, more frequently perhaps on 
a Syriac version: and in the crowd of astronomers and physicians 
there is no example of a poet, an orator, or even an historian being 
taught to speak the language of the Saracens. The mythology of 
Homer would have provoked the abhorrence of those stern fa- 
natics. They possessed in lazy ignorance the colonies of the Mace- 
donians, and the provinces of Carthage and Rome: the heroes of 
Plutarch and Livy were buried in oblivion, and the history of the 
world before Mohammed was reduced to a short legend of the 
patriarchs, the prophets, and the Persian kings. Our education in 
the Greek and Latin schools may have fixed in our minds a stan- 
dard of exclusive taste, and I am not forward to condemn the 
literature and judgment of nations of whose language I am ignor- 
ant. Yet I know that the classics have much to teach, and I 
believe that the Orientals have much to learn; the temperate dig- 
nity of style, the graceful proportions of art, the forms of visible 
and intellectual beauty, the just delineation of character and pas- 
sion, the rhetoric of narrative and argument, the regular fabric 
of epic and dramatic poetry. The influence of truth and reason 
is of a less ambiguous complexion. The philosophers of Athens 
and Rome enjoyed the blessings and asserted the rights of civil 
and religious freedom. Their moral and political writings might 



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350 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

have gradually unlocked the fetters of Eastern despotism, diffused 
a liberal spirit of inquiry and toleration, and encouraged the 
Arabian sages to suspect that their caliph was a tyrant, and their 
Prophet an impostor. The instinct of superstition was alarmed 
by the introduction even of the abstract sciences, and the more 
rigid doctors of the law condemned the rash and pernicious curi- 
osity of Almamon. To the thirst of martyrdom, the vision of 
paradise, and the belief of predestination, we must ascribe the 
invincible enthusiasm of the prince and people. And the sword 
of the Saracens became less formidable when their youth was 
drawn away from the camp to the college, when the armies of the 
faithful presumed to read and to reflect. Yet the foolish vanity 
of the Greeks was jealous of their studies, and reluctantly imparted 
the sacred fire to the barbarians of the East. 

In the bloody conflict of the Omayyads and Abbasids the 
Greeks had stolen the opportunity of avenging their wrongs and 
enlarging their limits. But a severe retribution was exacted by 
Mahdi, the third caliph of the new dynasty, who seized, in his 
turn, the favorable opportunity, while a woman and a child, Irene 
and Constantine, were seated on the Byzantine throne. An army 
of 95,000 Persians and Arabs was sent from the Tigris to the 
Thracian Bosporus, under the command of Harun, or Aaron, 
the second son of the commander of the faithful. His encamp- 
ment on the opposite heights of Chrysopolis, or Scutari, informed 
Irene, in her palace of Constantinople, of the loss of her troops 
and provinces. With the consent or connivance of their sover- 
eign, her ministers subscribed an ignominous peace: and the ex- 
change of some royal gifts could not disguise the annual tribute 
of seventy thousand dinars of gold, which was imposed on the 
Roman Empire. The Saracens had too rashly advanced into the 
midst of a distant and hostile land: their retreat was solicited by 
the promise of faithful guides and plentiful markets: and not a 
Greek had courage to whisper that their weary forces might be 
surrounded and destroyed in their necessary passage between a 
slippery mountain and the River Sangarius. Five years after this 
expedition, in 786, Harun ascended the throne of his father and his 
elder brother, the most powerful and vigorous monarch of his race, 
illustrious in the West as the ally of Charlemagne, and familiar 
to the most childish readers as the perpetual hero of the Arabian 
tales. His title to the name of Al Rashid (the Just) is sullied by 



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THE " SWORD OF JUSTICE " OF THE COMMANDER OF 

THE FAITHFIL 

Painting by H. Rcgnauit 



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3^IJ LIBRARY 



v.^ i on, r enox 

TI LI ) LN' KOU N P ATICN 



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352 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

overspread with 40,000 of his subjects. Yet the emperor was 
ashamed of submission, and the caliph was resolved on victory. 
One hundred and thirty-five thousand regular soldiers received 
pay, and were inscribed in the military roll; and above 300,000 
persons of every denomination marched under the black standard 
of the Abbasids. They swept the surface of Asia Minor far be- 
yond Tyana and Ancyra, and invested the Pontic Heraclea, once a 
flourishing state, now a paltry town, but then capable of sus- 
taining, in her antique walls, a month's siege against the forces 
of the East. The ruin was complete, the spoil was ample; but if 
Harun had been conversant with Grecian story he would have re- 
gretted the statue of Hercules, whose attributes, the club, the bow, 
the quiver, and the lion's hide, were sculptured in massy gold. 
The progress of desolation by sea and land, from the Euxine to 
the Isle of Cyprus, compelled the Emperor Nicephorus to retract 
his haughty defiance. In the new treaty, the ruins of Heraclea 
were left forever as a lesson and a trophy, and the coin of the 
tribute was marked with the image and superscription of Harun 
and his three sons. Yet this plurality of lords might contribute to 
remove the dishonor of the Roman name. After the death of their 
father in 809, the heirs of the caliph were involved in civil dis- 
cord, and the conqueror, the liberal Almamon, was sufficiently 
engaged in the restoration of domestic peace and the introduction 
of foreign science. 

In 823, under Almamon, who in 813 had ascended the throne 
at Bagdad, with Michael the Stammerer at Constantinople, the 
islands of Crete and Sicily were subdued by the Arabs. The 
former of these conquests is disdained by their own writers, 
who were ignorant of the fame of Jupiter and Minos, but it has 
not been overlooked by the Byzantine historians, who now begin 
to cast a clearer light on the affairs of their own times. A band 
of Andalusian volunteers, discontented with the climate or gov- 
ernment of Spain, explored the adventures of the sea ; but as they 
sailed in no more than ten or twenty galleys, their warfare must 
be branded with the name of piracy. As the subjects and sec- 
taries of the white party, they might lawfully invade the domin- 
ions of the black caliphs. A rebellious faction introduced them 
into Alexandria ; they cut in pieces both friends and foes, pillaged 
the churches and the mosques, sold above six thousand Christian 
captives, and maintained their station in the capital of Egypt, 



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ARABIA 353 

till they were oppressed by the forces and the presence of Almamon 
himself. From the mouth of the Nile to the Hellespont the islands 
and seacoasts both of the Greeks and Moslems were exposed to 
their depredations; they saw, they envied, they tasted the fertility 
of Crete, and soon returned with forty galleys to a more serious 
attack. The Andalusians wandered over the land fearless and un- 
molested; but when they descended with their plunder to the sea- 
shore their vessels were in flames, and their chief, Abu Caab, con- 
fessed himself the author of the mischief. Their clamors accused 
his madness or treachery. " Of what do you complain ? " replied 
the crafty emir. " I have brought you to a land flowing with 
milk and honey. Here is your true country; repose from your 
toils, and forget the barren place of your nativity." "And our 
wives and children ? " " Your beauteous captives will supply the 
place of your wives, and in their embraces you will soon become 
the fathers of a new progeny." The first habitation was their 
camp, with a ditch and rampart, in the Bay of Suda ; but an apos- 
tate monk led them to a more desirable position in the eastern 
parts, and the name of Candax, their fortress and colony, had 
been extended to the whole island, under the corrupt and modern 
appellation of Candia. The hundred cities of the age of Minos 
were diminished to thirty, and of these, only one, most probably 
Cydonia, had courage to retain the substance of freedom and the 
profession of Christianity. The Saracens of Crete soon repaired 
the loss of their navy ; and the timbers of Mount Ida were launched 
into the main. During a hostile period of 138 years the princes 
of Constantinople attacked these licentious corsairs with fruitless 
curses and ineffectual arms. 

The loss of Sicily (827-878) was occasioned by an act of 
superstitious rigor. A youth, who had stolen a nun from her clois- 
ter, was sentenced by the emperor to the amputation of his tongue. 
Euphemius appealed to the reason and policy of the Saracens of 
Africa, and soon returned with the imperial purple, a fleet of 100 
ships, and an army of 700 horse and 10,000 foot. They landed 
at Mazara near the ruins of the ancient Selinus, but after some 
partial victories Syracuse was delivered by the Greeks, the apos- 
tate was slain before her walls, and his African friends were re- 
duced to the necessity of feeding on the flesh of their own horses. 
In their turn they were relieved by a powerful reinforcement of 
their brethren of Andalusia, the largest and western part of the 



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354 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

island was gradually reduced and the commodious harbor of 
Palermo was chosen for the seat of the naval and military power 
of the Saracens. Syracuse preserved about fifty years the faith 
which she had sworn to Christ and to Caesar. In the last and 
fatal siege her citizens displayed some remnant of the spirit which 
had formerly resisted the powers of Athens and Carthage. They 
stood above twenty days against the battering-rams and cata- 
pults, the mines and tortoises of the besiegers, and the place might 
have been relieved if the mariners of the imperial fleet had not 
been detained at Constantinople in building a church to the Virgin 
Mary. The Deacon Theodosius, with the bishop and clergy, was 
dragged in chains from the altar to Palermo, cast into a subter- 
raneous dungeon, and exposed to the hourly peril of death or 
apostacy. His pathetic, and not inelegant, complaint may be read 
as the epitaph of his country. From the Roman conquest to this 
final calamity, Syracuse, now dwindled to the primitive Isle of 
Ortygea, had insensibly declined. Yet the relics were still pre- 
cious; the plate of the cathedral weighed five thousand pounds of 
silver; the entire spoil was computed at one million of pieces of 
gold (or about $2,000,000), and the total number of captives 
must have exceeded the seventeen thousand Christians who were 
transported from the sack of Tauromenium into African servi- 
tude. In Sicily the religion and language of the Greeks were 
eradicated, and such was the docility of the rising generation that 
fifteen thousand boys were circumcised and clothed on the same 
day with the son of the Fatimite caliph. The Arabian squadrons 
issued from the harbors of Palermo, Biserta, and Tunis; a hun- 
dred and fifty towns of Calabria and Campania were attacked and 
pillaged ; nor could the suburbs of Rome be defended by the name 
of the Caesars and apostles. Had the Mohammedans been united, 
Italy must have fallen an easy and glorious accession to the empire 
of the Prophet. But the caliphs of Bagdad had lost their author- 
ity in the West ; the Aglabites and Fatimites usurped the provinces 
of Africa, their emirs of Sicily aspired to independence; and the 
design of conquest and dominion was degraded to a repetition of 
predatory inroads. 

In the sufferings of prostrate Italy the name of Rome awakens 
a solemn and mournful recollection. A fleet of Saracens from 
the African coast presumed to enter the Tiber in 846 and to 
approach a city which even yet, in her fallen state, was revered 



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ARABIA 855 

as the metropolis of the Christian world. The gates and ramparts 
were guarded by a trembling people, but the tombs and temples of 
St. Peter and St. Paul were left exposed in the suburbs of the 
Vatican and of the Ostian way. Their invisible sanctity had pro- 
tected them against the Goths, the Vandals, and the Lombards, 
but the Arabs disdained both the Gospel and the legend, and their 
rapacious spirit was approved and animated by the precepts of 
the Koran. The Christian " idols " were stripped of their costly 
offerings, a silver altar was torn away from the shrine of St. 
Peter, and if the bodies or the buildings were left entire, their 
deliverance must be imputed to the haste, rather than the scruples, 
of the Saracens. In their course along the Appian way they pil- 
laged Fundi and besieged Gaeta, but they had turned aside from 
the walls of Rome, and, by their divisions, the Capitol was saved 
from the yoke of the Prophet of Mecca. The same danger still 
impended on the heads of the Roman people, and their domestic 
force was unequal to the assault of an African emir. They claimed 
the protection of their Latin sovereign, but the Carlovingian stan- 
dard was overthrown by a detachment of the barbarians; they 
meditated the restoration of the Greek emperors, but the attempt 
was treasonable, and the succor remote and precarious. Their 
distress appeared to receive some aggravation from the death of 
their spiritual and temporal chief, but the pressing emergency su- 
perseded the forms and intrigues of an election, and the unanimous 
choice of Pope Leo IV. in 847 was the safety of the church and 
city. This Pontiff was born a Roman, the courage of the first ages 
of the republic glowed in his breast, and amid the ruins of his 
country he stood erect, like one of the firm and lofty columns that 
rear their heads above the fragments of the Roman forum. The 
first days of his reign were consecrated to the purification and 
removal of relics, to prayers and processions, and to all the solemn 
offices of religion, which served at least to heat the imagination 
and restore the hopes of the multitude. The public defense had 
been long neglected, not from the presumption of peace, but from 
the distress and poverty of the times. As far as the scantiness of 
his means and the shortness of his leisure would allow, the ancient 
walls were repaired by the command of Leo ; fifteen towers, in the 
most accessible stations, were built or renewed ; two of these com- 
manded on either side the Tiber; and an iron chain was drawn 
across the stream to impede the ascent of a hostile navy. The 



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356 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

Romans were assured of a short respite by the welcome news that 
the siege of Gaeta had been raised and that a part of the enemy, 
with their sacrilegious plunder, had perished in the waves. 

But the storm which had been delayed soon burst upon them 
with redoubled violence. The Aglabite, 1 who reigned in Africa, 
had inherited from his father a treasure and an army. A fleet 
of Arabs and Moors, after a short refreshment in the harbors of 
Sardinia, cast anchor before the mouth of the Tiber, sixteen miles 
from the city, and their discipline and numbers appeared to 
threaten, not a transient inroad, but a serious design of conquest 
and dominion. But in 849 the vigilant Leo had formed alliance 
with the vassals of the Greek Empire, the free and maritime states 
of Gaeta, Naples, and Amalfi, and in the hour of danger their 
galleys appeared in the port of Ostia under the command of 
Caesarius, the son of the Neapolitan duke, a noble and valiant 
youth, who had already vanquished the fleets of the Saracens. 
With his principal companions, Caesarius was invited to the 
Lateran palace, and the dexterous Pontiff affected to inquire their 
errand, and to accept with joy and surprise their providential suc- 
cor. The city bands, in arms, attended their father to Ostia, 
where he reviewed and blessed his generous deliverers. They 
kissed his feet, received the communion with martial devotion, and 
listened to the prayer of Leo, that the same God who had supported 
St. Peter and St. Paul on the waves of the sea would strengthen 
the hands of His champions against the adversaries of His holy 
name. After a similar prayer, and with equal resolution, the 
Moslems advanced to the attack of the Christian galleys, which 
preserved their advantageous station along the coast. The vic- 
tory inclined to the side of the allies, when it was less gloriously 
decided in their favor by a sudden tempest, which confounded the 
skill and courage of the stoutest mariners. The Christians were 
sheltered in a friendly harbor, while the Africans were scattered 
and dashed in pieces among the rocks and islands of a hostile shore. 
Those who escaped from shipwreck and hunger neither found, 
nor deserved, mercy at the hands of their implacable pursuers. 
The sword and the gibbet reduced the dangerous multitude of cap- 
tives, and the remainder were more usefully employed to restore the 
sacred edifices which they had attempted to subvert. The Pontiff, 

*The Aglabites reigned in northern Africa from the beginning of the ninth 
century to 909. This dynasty was succeeded by the Fatimites, 909 to 1171. 



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ARABIA 357 

at the head of the citizens and allies, paid his grateful devotion at 
the shrines of the apostles, and among the spoils of this naval vic- 
tory thirteen Arabian bows of pure and massy silver were sus- 
pended round the altar of the fisherman of Galilee. By his liber- 
ality a colony of Corsicans, with their wives and children, was 
planted in the station of Porto, at the mouth of the Tiber: the 
falling city was restored for their use, the fields and vineyards 
were divided among the new settlers; their first efforts were as- 
sisted by a gift of horses and cattle; and the hardy exiles, who 
breathed revenge against the Saracens, swore to live and die under 
the standard of St. Peter. 

The Emperor Theophilus (829-842), son of Michael the 
Stammerer, was one of the most active and high-spirited princes 
who reigned at Constantinople during the Middle Ages. In offen- 
sive or defensive war he marched in person five times against the 
Saracens, formidable in his attack, esteemed by the enemy in his 
losses and defeats. In the last of these expeditions he penetrated 
into Syria and besieged the obscure town of Sozopetra, the casual 
birthplace of the Caliph Mutasim, whose father, Harun, was at- 
tended in peace or war by the most favored of his wives and con- 
cubines. The revolt of a Persian impostor employed at that mo- 
ment the arms of the Saracen, and he could only intercede in favor 
of a place for which he felt and acknowledged some degree of 
filial affection. These solicitations determined the emperor to 
wound his pride in so sensible a part. Sozopetra was leveled with 
the ground, the Syrian prisoners were marked or mutilated with 
ignominious cruelty, and a thousand female captives were forced 
away from the adjacent territory. Among these a matron of the 
house of Abbas invoked, in an agony of despair, the name of 
Mutasim; and the insults of the Greeks engaged the honor of 
her kinsman to avenge his indignity and to answer her appeal. 
Under the reign of the two elder brothers the inheritance of the 
youngest had been confined to Anatolia, Armenia, Georgia, and 
Circassia; this frontier station had exercised his military talents, 
and among his accidental claims to the name of Octonary, the 
most meritorious are the eight battles which he gained or fought 
against the enemies of the Koran. In this personal quarrel the 
troops of Irak, Syria, and Egypt were recruited from the tribes 
of Arabia and the Turkish hordes : his cavalry might be numerous, 
though we should deduct some myriads from the 130,000 horses 



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358 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

of the royal stables; and the expense of the armament was com- 
puted at four millions sterling, or about $20,000,000. When these 
Saracen troops had assembled at the city of Tarsus in 838, they ad- 
vanced in three divisions along the high road of Constantinople. 
Mutasim himself commanded the center, and the vanguard was 
given to his son Abbas, who, in the trial of the first adventures, 
might succeed with the more glory, or fall with the least reproach. 
In the revenge of his injury, the caliph prepared to retaliate a sim- 
ilar affront. The father of Theophilus was a native of Amorium 
in Phrygia. The original seat of the imperial house had been 
adorned with privileges and monuments, and whatever might be 
the indifference of the people, Constantinople itself was scarcely 
of more value in the eyes of the sovereign and his court. The 
name of Amorium was inscribed on the shields of the Saracens, 
and their three armies were again united under the walls of the 
devoted city. It had been proposed by the wisest counselors to 
evacuate Amorium, to remove the inhabitants, and to abandon the 
empty structures to the vain resentment of the barbarians. The 
emperor embraced the more generous resolution of defending, in 
a siege and battle, the country of his ancestors. When the armies 
drew near, the front of the Mohammedan line appeared to a 
Roman eye more closely planted with spears and javelins ; but the 
event of the action was not glorious on either side to the national 
troops. The Arabs were broken, but it was by the swords of 
30,000 Persians, who had obtained service and settlement in the 
Byzantine Empire. The Greeks were repulsed and vanquished, 
but it was by the arrows of the Turkish cavalry ; and had not their 
bowstrings been damped and relaxed by the evening rain, very 
few of the Christians could have escaped with the emperor from 
the field of battle. They breathed at Doryleum, at the distance of 
three days; and Theophilus, reviewing his trembling squadrons, 
forgave the common flight both of the prince and the people. 
After this discovery of his weakness, he vainly hoped to deprecate 
the fate of Amorium : the inexorable caliph rejected with contempt 
his prayers and promises, and detained the Roman ambassadors 
to be the witnesses of his great revenge. They had nearly been the 
witnesses of his shame. The vigorous assaults of fifty-five days 
were encountered by a faithful governor, a veteran garrison, and 
a desperate people; and the Saracens must have raised the siege 
if a domestic traitor had not pointed to the weakest part of the 



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ARABIA S59 

wall, a place which was decorated with the statues of a Hon and 
a bull. The vow of Mutasim was accomplished with unrelenting 
rigor: tired, rather than satiated, with destruction, he returned 
to his new palace of Samara, in the neighborhood of Bagdad, 
while the unfortunate Theophilus implored the tardy and doubtful 
aid of his Western rival, the emperor of the Franks. Yet in the 
siege of Amorium about 70,000 Moslems had perished : their loss 
had been revenged by the slaughter of 30,000 Christians, and the 
sufferings of an equal number of captives, who were treated as the 
most atrocious criminals. Mutual necessity could sometimes ex- 
tort the exchange or ransom of prisoners, but in the national and 
religious conflict of the two empires peace was without confidence, 
and war without mercy. Quarter was seldom given in the field; 
those who escaped the edge of the sword were condemned to 
hopeless servitude or exquisite torture; and a Catholic emperor 
relates, with visible satisfaction, the execution of the Saracens 
of Crete, who were flayed alive or plunged into caldrons of boiling 
oil. To a point of honor Mutasim had sacrificed a flourishing city, 
200,000 lives, and the property of millions. The same caliph de- 
scended from his horse and dirtied his robe to relieve the distress 
of a decrepit old man who, with his laden ass, had tumbled into a 
ditch. On which of these actions did he reflect with the most 
pleasure when he was summoned by the angel of death ? 

With Mutasim (833-841), the eighth of the Abbasids, the 
glory of his family and nation expired. When the Arabian con- 
querors had spread themselves over the East, and were mingled 
with the servile crowds of Persia, Syria and Egypt, they insensibly 
lost the freeborn and martial virtues of the desert. The courage 
of the south is the artificial fruit of discipline and prejudice; the 
active power of enthusiasm had decayed, and the mercenary forces 
of the caliph were recruited in those climates of the north, of 
which valor is the hardy and spontaneous production. Of the 
Turks who dwelt beyond the Oxus and Jaxartes, the robust youths, 
either taken in war or purchased in trade, were educated in the 
exercises of the field, and the profession of the Mohammedan 
faith. The Turkish guards stood in arms round the throne of 
their benefactor, and their chiefs usurped the dominion of the pal- 
ace and the provinces. Mutasim, the first author of this dangerous 
example, introduced into the capital above fifty thousand Turks. 
Their licentious conduct provoked the public indignation, and the 



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S60 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

quarrels of the soldiers and people induced the caliph to retire from 
Bagdad and establish his own residence and the camp of his bar- 
barian favorites at Samara on the Tigris, about twelve leagues 
above the City of Peace. His son Mutawakkil was a jealous and 
cruel tyrant. Odious to his subjects, he cast himself on the fidelity 
of the strangers, and these strangers, ambitious and apprehensive, 
were tempted by the rich promise of a revolution. At the insti- 
gation, or at least in the cause of his son, they burst into his apart- 
ment at the hour of supper, and the caliph was cut into seven 
pieces by the same swords which he had recently distributed among 
the guards of his life and throne. To this throne, yet streaming 
with a father's blood, Muntasir was triumphantly led; but in a 
reign of six months he found only the pangs of a guilty conscience. 
If he wept at the sight of the old tapestry which represented the 
crime and punishment of the son of Chosroes, if his days were 
abridged by grief and remorse, we may allow some pity to a par- 
ricide, who exclaimed, in the bitterness of death, that he had lost 
both this world and the world to come. After this act of treason 
the ensigns of royalty, the garment and walking-staff of Mo- 
hammed, were given and torn away by the foreign mercenaries, 
who in four years created, deposed, and murdered three com- 
manders of the faithful. As often as the Turks were inflamed by 
fear, or rage, or avarice these caliphs were dragged by the feet, 
exposed naked to the scorching sun, beaten with iron clubs, and 
compelled to purchase, by the abdication of their dignity, a short 
reprieve of inevitable fate. At length, however, the fury of the 
tempest was spent or diverted: the Abbasids returned to the less 
turbulent residence of Bagdad; the insolence of the Turks was 
curbed with a firmer and more skillful hand, and their numbers 
were divided and destroyed in foreign warfare. But the nations of 
the East had been taught to trample on the successors of the 
Prophet, and the blessings of domestic peace were obtained by 
the relaxation of strength and discipline. So uniform are the mis- 
chiefs of military despotism, that I seem to repeat the story of the 
praetorians of Rome. 

While the flame of enthusiasm was damped by the business, 
the pleasure, and the knowledge of the age, it burned with con- 
centrated heat in the breasts of the chosen few, the congenial 
spirits who were ambitious of reigning either in this world or in 
the next. How carefully so ever the book of prophecy had been 



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ARABIA 861 

sealed by the Apostle of Mecca, the wishes, and (if we may pro- 
fane the word) even the reason, of fanaticism might believe that, 
after the successive missions of Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, 
Jesus, and Mohammed, the same God, in the fullness of time, 
would reveal a still more perfect and permanent law. About the 
end of the ninth century, in the 287th year of the Hegira, an Arabian 
preacher near Cufa, of the name of Karmat, assumed the lofty and in- 
comprehensible style of the Guide, the Director, the Demonstration, 
the Word, the Holy Ghost, the Camel, the Herald of the Messiah, 
who had conversed with him in a human shape, and the representa- 
tive of Mohammed the son of Ali, of St. John the Baptist, and of 
the angel Gabriel. In his mystic volume the precepts of the Koran 
were refined to a more spiritual sense. He relaxed the duties of 
ablution, fasting, and pilgrimage, allowed the indiscriminate use 
of wine and forbidden food, and nourished the fervor of his dis- 
ciples by the daily repetition of fifty prayers. The idleness and 
ferment of the rustic crowd awakened the attention of the magis- 
trates of Cufa; a timid persecution assisted the progress of the 
new sect ; and the name of the prophet became more revered after 
his person had been withdrawn from the world. His twelve apos- 
tles dispersed themselves among the Beduins, "a race of men," 
says Abulfeda, " equally devoid of reason and of religion," and the 
success of their preaching seemed to threaten Arabia with a new 
revolution. The followers of Karmat were ripe for rebellion, dis- 
claiming the title of the house of Abbas, and abhorring the worldly 
pomp of the caliphs of Bagdad. They were susceptible of dis* 
cipline, since they vowed a blind and absolute submission to their 
imam, who was called to the prophetic office by the voice of 
God and the people. Instead of the legal tithes, he claimed the 
fifth of their substance and spoil ; the most flagitious sins were no 
more than the type of disobedience; and the brethren were united 
by an oath of secrecy. After a bloody conflict the Karmathians 
prevailed in the province of Bahrein, along the Persian Gulf: far 
and wide the tribes of the desert were subject to the scepter, or 
rather to the sword, of Abu Said and his son Abu Tahir, and 
these rebellious imams could muster in the field 107,000 fanatics. 
The mercenaries of the caliph were dismayed at the approach of 
an enemy who neither asked nor accepted quarter, and the difference 
between them, in fortitude and patience, is expressive of the change 
which three centuries of prosperity had effected in the character 



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362 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

of the Arabians. Such troops were discomfited in every action. 
The cities of Racca and Baalbec, of Cufa and Bassora, were taken 
and pillaged, Bagdad was filled with consternation, and the caliph 
trembled behind the veils of his palace. In a daring inroad beyond 
the Tigris Abu Tahir advanced to the gates of the capital with 
no more than 500 horse. By the special order of Muktadir the 
bridges had been broken down and the person or head of the rebel 
was expected every hour by the commander of the faithful. His 
lieutenant, from a motive of fear or pity, apprised Abu Tahir of 
his danger, and recommended a speedy escape. "Your master," 
said the intrepid Karmathian to the messenger, "is at the head 
of 30,000 soldiers: three such men as these are wanting in his 
host." 

At the same instant, turning to three of his companions, 
he commanded the first to plunge a dagger into his breast, the sec- 
ond to leap into the Tigris, and the third to cast himself headlong 
down a precipice. They obeyed without a murmur. " Relate," 
continued the imam, "what you have seen. Before the evening 
your general shall be chained among my dogs." Before the even- 
ing the camp was surprised and the menace was executed. The 
rapine of the Karmathians was sanctified by their aversion to the 
worship of Mecca. They robbed a caravan of pilgrims, and twenty 
thousand devout Moslems were abandoned on the burning sands to 
a death of hunger and thirst. Another year they suffered the pil- 
grims to proceed without interruption, but in the festival of devo- 
tion Abu Tahir stormed the holy city and trampled on the most 
venerable relics of the Mohammedan faith (930). Thirty thou- 
sand citizens and strangers were put to the sword, the sacred pre- 
cincts were polluted by the burial of three thousand dead bodies; 
the well of Zemzem overflowed with blood ; the golden spout was 
forced from its place; the veil of the Kaaba was divided among 
these impious sectaries; and the black stone, the first monument 
of the nation, was borne away in triumph to their capital. After 
this deed of sacrilege and cruelty they continued to infest the 
confines of Irak, Syria, and Egypt; but the vital principle of en- 
thusiasm had withered at the root. Their scruples, or their 
avarice, again opened the pilgrimage of Mecca, and restored the 
black stone of the Kaaba; and it is needless to inquire into what 
factions they were broken, or by whose swords they were finally 
extirpated. The sect of the Karmathians may be considered as the 



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ARABIA 868 

second visible cause of the decline and fall of the empire of the 
caliphs. 

The third and most obvious cause was the weight and magni- 
tude of the empire itself. The Caliph Almamon might proudly 
assert that it was easier for him to rule the East and the West 
than to manage a chess-board of two feet square. Yet I suspect 
that in both those games he was guilty of many fatal mistakes, and 
I perceive that in the distant provinces the authority of the first 
and most powerful of the Abbasids was already impaired. The 
analogy of despotism invests the representative with the full 
majesty of the prince; the division and balance of powers might 
relax the habits of obedience, might encourage the passive sub- 
ject to inquire into the origin and administration of civil govern- 
ment. He who is born in the purple is seldom worthy to reign; 
but the elevation of a private man, of a peasant, perhaps, or a 
slave, affords a strong presumption of his courage and capacity. 
The viceroy of a remote kingdom aspires to secure the property 
and inheritance of his precarious trust; the nations must rejoice 
in the presence of their sovereign; and the command of armies 
and treasures are at once the object and the instrument of his 
ambition. A change was scarcely visible so long as the lieutenants 
of the caliph were content with their vicarious title; while they 
solicited for themselves or their sons a renewal of the imperial 
grant, and still maintained on the coin and in the public prayers 
the name and prerogative of the commander of the faithful. But 
in the long and hereditary exercise of power they assumed the 
pride and attributes of royalty; the alternative of peace or war, 
of reward or punishment, depended solely on their will; and the 
revenues of their government were reserved for local services or 
private magnificence. Instead of a regular supply of men and 
money, the successors of the Prophet were flattered with the 
ostentatious gift of an elephant, or a cast of hawks, a suit of silk 
hangings, or some pounds of musk and amber. 

After the revolt of Spain from the temporal and spiritual 
supremacy of the Abbasids, the first symptoms of disobedience 
broke forth in the province of Africa. Ibrahim, the son of Aglab, 
the lieutenant of the vigilant and rigid Harun, bequeathed to the 
dynasty of the Aglabites (800-841) the inheritance of his name 
and power. The indolence or policy of the caliphs dissembled the 
loss, and pursued only with poison the founder of the Edrisites (829- 



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364 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

907), who erected the kingdom and city of Fez on the shores of the 
ocean. In the East the first dynasty was that of the Tahirites 
(813-872), the descendants of Tahir, who, in the civil wars of the 
sons of Harun, had served with too much zeal and success the 
cause of Almamon, the younger brother. He was sent into 
horrible exile, to command on the banks of the Oxus ; and the in- 
dependence of his successors, who reigned in Khorasan till the 
fourth generation, was palliated by their modest and respectful de- 
meanor, the happiness of their subjects, and the security of their 
frontier. They were supplanted by one of those adventurers so 
frequent in the annals of the East, who left his brazier, whence the 
name of the Soffarides (872-902), for the profession of a rob- 
ber. In a nocturnal visit to the treasure of the prince of Sistan, 
Jacob, the son of Leith, stumbled over a lump of salt, which he 
unwarily tasted with his tongue. Salt, among the Orientals, is 
the symbol of hospitality, and the pious robber immediately retired 
without spoil or damage. The discovery of this honorable be- 
havior recommended Jacob to pardon and trust; he led an army 
at first for his benefactor, at last for himself, subdued Persia, 
and threatened the residence of the Abbasids. On his march 
toward Bagdad the conqueror was arrested by a fever. He gave 
audience in bed to the ambassador of the caliph, and beside him on 
a table were exposed a naked scimiter, a crust of brown bread, 
and a bunch of onions. " If I die," said he, " your master is de- 
livered from his fears. If I live, this must determine between us. 
If I am vanquished, I can return without reluctance to the homely 
fare of my youth." From the height where he stood the descent 
would not have been so soft or harmless : a timely death secured 
his own repose and that of the caliph, who paid with the most 
lavish concessions the retreat of his brother Amru to the palaces 
of Shiraz and Ispahan. The Abbasids were too feeble to contend, 
too proud to forgive: they invited the powerful dynasty of the 
Samanides (874-999), who passed the Oxus with 10,000 horse so 
poor that their stirrups were of wood ; so brave, that they vanquished 
the Soffarian army, eight times more numerous than their own. The 
captive Amru was sent in chains, a grateful offering to the court 
of Bagdad, and as the victor was content with the inheritance 
of Transoxiana and Khorasan, the realms of Persia returned for 
a while to the allegiance of the caliphs. The provinces of Syria 
and Egypt were twice dismembered by their Turkish slaves of the 



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ARABIA S65 

race of Tuulun and Ikshid. These barbarians, in religion and 
manners the countrymen of Mohammed, emerged from the bloody 
factions of the palace to a provincial command and an independent 
throne: their names became famous and formidable in their time; 
but the founders of these two potent dynasties confessed, either 
in words or actions, the vanity of ambition. The first on his death- 
bed implored the mercy of God to a sinner, ignorant of the limits 
of his own power ; the second, in the midst of 400,000 soldiers and 
8000 slaves, concealed from every human eye the chamber where 
he attempted to sleep. Their sons were educated in the vices 
of kings, and both Egypt and Syria were recovered and possessed 
by the Abbasids during an interval of thirty years. In the decline 
of their empire, Mesopotamia, with the important cities of Mosul 
and Aleppo, was occupied by the Arabian princes of the tribe of 
Hamadan. The poets of their court could repeat without a blush 
that nature had formed their countenances for beauty, their 
tongues for eloquence, and their hands for liberality and valor; 
but the genuine tale of the elevation and reign of the Hamadanites 
exhibits a scene of treachery, murder, and parricide. At the same 
fatal period the Persian kingdom was again usurped by the dynasty 
of the Bowides (933-1005), by the sword of three brothers, who, 
under various names, were styled the support and columns of the 
state, and who, from the Caspian Sea to the ocean, would suffer no 
tyrants but themselves. Under their reign the language and genius 
of Persia revived, and the Arabs, 304 years after the death of 
Mohammed, were deprived of the scepter of the East. 

Radhi, the twentieth of the Abbasids, and the thirty-ninth 
of the successors of Mohammed, was the last who deserved the 
title of commander of the faithful; the last (says Abulfeda) who 
spoke to the people, or conversed with the learned; the last who, 
in the expense of his household, represented the wealth and mag- 
nificence of the ancient caliphs. After him the lords of the Eastern 
world were reduced to the most abject misery and exposed to the 
blows and insults of a servile condition. The revolt of the prov- 
inces circumscribed their dominions within the walls of Bagdad; 
but that capital still contained an innumerable multitude, vain of 
their past fortune, discontented with their present state, and op- 
pressed by the demands of a treasury which had formerly been 
replenished by the spoil and tribute of nations. Their idleness 
was exercised by faction and controversy. Under the mask of 



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366 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

piety the rigid followers of Hanbal invaded the pleasures of do- 
mestic life, burst into the houses of plebeians and princes, spilt 
the wine, broke the instruments, beat the musicians, and dishon- 
ored, with infamous suspicions, the associates of every handsome 
youth. In each profession, which allowed room for two persons, 
the one was a votary, the other an antagonist, of AH; and the 
Abbasids were awakened by the clamorous grief of the sectaries, 
who denied their title, and cursed their progenitors. A turbulent 
people can only be repressed by a military force; but who 
could satisfy the avarice or assert the discipline of the mercenaries 
themselves? The African and the Turkish guards drew their 
swords against each other, and the chief commanders, the emirs 
al Omra, imprisoned or deposed their sovereigns and violated the 
sanctuary of the mosque and harem. If the caliphs escaped to the 
camp or court of any neighboring prince, their deliverance was 
a change of servitude, till they were prompted by despair to invite 
the Bowides, the sultans of Persia, who silenced the factions of 
Bagdad by their irresistible arms. The civil and military powers 
were assumed in 945 by Muiz ad-Daula, the second of the three 
brothers, and a stipend equivalent to about $300,000 was assigned 
by his generosity for the private expense of the commander 
of the faithful. But on the fortieth day, at the audience of 
the ambassadors of Khorasan, and in the presence of a trembling 
multitude, the caliph was dragged from his throne to a dungeon, 
by the command of the stranger, and the rude hands of his Dilem- 
ites. His palace was pillaged, his eyes were put out, and the mean 
ambition of the Abbasids aspired to the vacant station of danger 
and disgrace. In the school of adversity the luxurious caliphs re- 
sumed the grave and abstemious virtues of the primitive times. 
Despoiled of their armor and silken robes, they fasted, they prayed, 
they studied the Koran and the tradition of the Sunnites; they 
performed, with zeal and knowledge, the functions of their eccle- 
siastical character. The respect of nations still waited on the suc- 
cessors of the Apostle ; the oracles of the law and conscience of the 
faithful, and the weakness or division of their tyrants sometimes 
restored the Abbasids to the sovereignty of Bagdad. But their 
misfortunes had been imbittered by the triumph of the Fatimites, 
the real or spurious progeny of Ali. Arising from the extremity 
of Africa, these successful rivals extinguished, in Egypt and Syria, 
both the spiritual and temporal authority of the Abbasids. 



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ARABIA 867 

In the declining age of the caliphs, in the century which 
elapsed after the war of Theophilus and Mutasim, the hostile 
transactions of the two nations were confined to some inroads by 
sea and land, the fruits of their close vicinity and indelible hatred. 
But when the Eastern world was convulsed and broken, the Greeks 
in 960 roused from their lethargy in the hope of conquest and re- 
venge. The Byzantine Empire, since the accession of the Basilian 
race, had reposed in peace and dignity; and they might encounter 
with their entire strength the front of some petty emir, whose rear 
was assaulted and threatened by his national foes of the Moham- 
medan faith. The lofty titles of the "morning star" and the 
" death of the Saracens " were applied in the public acclamations 
to Nicephorus Phocas, a prince as renowned in the camp as he 
was unpopular in the city. In the subordinate station of great 
domestic, or general of the East, he reduced the Island of Crete 
in 962 and extirpated the nest of pirates who had so long defied, 
with impunity, the majesty of the empire. His military genius 
was displayed in the conduct and success of the enterprise which 
had so often failed with loss and dishonor. The Saracens were 
confounded by the landing of his troops on safe and level bridges, 
which he cast from the vessels to the shore. Seven months were 
consumed in the siege of Candia ; the despair of the native Cretans 
was stimulated by the frequent aid of their brethren of Africa and 
Spain ; and after the massy wall and double ditch had been stormed 
by the Greeks, a hopeless conflict was still maintained in the streets 
and houses of the city. The whole island was subdued in the 
capital, and a submissive people accepted, without resistance, the 
baptism of the conqueror. Constantinople applauded the long-for- 
gotten pomp of a triumph, but the imperial diadem was the sole re- 
ward that could repay the services, or satisfy the ambition, of 
Nicephorus. 

After the death of the younger Romanus, the fourth in lineal 
descent of the Basilian race, his widow, Theophania, successively 
married Nicephorus Phocas, who ruled from 963 to 969, and his 
assassin, John Zimisces, the two heroes of the age. They reigned 
as the guardians and colleagues of her infant sons, and the twelve 
years of their military command form the most splendid period of 
the Byzantine annals. The subjects and confederates whom they 
led to war appeared, at least in the eyes of an enemy, 200,000 
strong, and of these about 30,000 were armed with cuirasses: a 



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868 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

train of 4000 mules attended their march ; and their evening camp 
was regularly fortified with an enclosure of iron spikes. A series 
of bloody and indecisive combats is nothing more than an antici- 
pation of what would have been effected in a few years by the 
course of nature, but I shall briefly prosecute the conquests of the 
two emperors from the hills of Kappadocia to the desert of Bagdad. 
The sieges of Mopsuestia and Tarsus, in Cilicia, first exercised the 
skill and perseverance of their troops, on whom, for the time, 
I shall not hesitate to bestow the name of Romans. In the double 
city of Mopsuestia, which is divided by the River Sarus, 200,000 
Moslems were predestined to death or slavery, a surprising de- 
gree of population, which must at least include the inhabitants of 
the dependent districts. They were surrounded and taken by as- 
sault, but Tarsus was reduced by the slow progress of famine; 
and no sooner had the Saracens yielded on honorable terms than 
they were mortified by the distant and unprofitable view of the 
naval succors of Egypt. They were dismissed with a safe-conduct 
to the confines of Syria: a part of the old Christians had quietly 
lived under their dominion; and the vacant habitations were re- 
plenished by a new colony. But the mosque was converted into a 
stable ; the pulpit was delivered to the flames ; many rich crosses of 
gold and gems, the spoils of Asiatic churches, were made a grate- 
ful offering to the piety or avarice of the emperor; and he trans- 
ported the gates of Mopsuestia and Tarsus, which were fixed in 
the wall of Constantinople, an eternal monument of his victory. 
After they had forced and secured the narrow passes of Mount 
Amanus, the two Roman princes repeatedly carried their arms into 
the heart of Syria. Yet, instead of assaulting the walls of An- 
tioch, the humanity or superstition of Nicephorus appeared to 
respect the ancient metropolis of the East: he contented himself 
with drawing round the city a line of circumvallation, left a sta- 
tionary army, and instructed his lieutenant to expect, without im- 
patience, the return of spring. But in the depth of winter, in a 
dark and rainy night, an adventurous subaltern, with 300 soldiers, 
approached the rampart, applied his scaling-ladders, occupied two 
adjacent towers, stood firm against the pressure of multitudes, and 
bravely maintained his post till he was relieved by the tardy, 
though effectual, support of his reluctant chief. The first tumult 
of slaughter and rapine subsided; the reign of Caesar and of 
Christ was restored; and the efforts of ioo,coo Saracens, of the 



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ARABIA 369 

armies of Syria and the fleets of Africa, were consumed without 
effect before the walls of Antioch. The royal city of Aleppo was 
subject to Saif ad-Daula, of the dynasty of Hamadan, who clouded 
his past glory by the precipitate retreat which abandoned his king- 
dom and capital to the Roman invaders. In his stately palace, 
that stood without the walls of Aleppo, they joyfully seized a well- 
furnished magazine of arms, a stable of 1400 mules, and 300 bags 
of silver and gold. But the walls of the city withstood the strokes 
of their battering rams, and the besiegers pitched their tents on 
the neighboring mountain of Jaushan. Their retreat exasperated 
the quarrel of the townsmen and mercenaries; the guard of the 
gates and ramparts was deserted ; and while they furiously charged 
each other in the market-place, they were surprised and destroyed 
by the sword of a common enemy. The male sex was exterminated 
by the sword; 10,000 youths were led into captivity; the weight 
of the precious spoil exceeded the strength and number of the 
beasts of burden; the superfluous remainder was burned; and, 
after a licentious possession of ten days, the Romans marched 
away from the naked and bleeding city. In their Syrian inroads 
they commanded the husbandmen to cultivate their lands, that they 
themselves, in the ensuing season, might reap the benefit: more 
than a hundred cities were reduced to obedience; and eighteen 
pulpits of the principal mosques were committed to the flames to 
expiate the sacrilege of the disciples of Mohammed. The classic 
names of Hierapolis, Apamea, and Emesa revive for a moment in 
the list of conquest: the Emperor Zimisces encamped in the para- 
dise of Damascus, and accepted the ransom of a submissive people ; 
and the torrent was only stopped by the impregnable fortress of 
Tripoli, on the seacoast of Phoenicia. Since the days of Heraclius 
the Euphrates, below the passage of Mount Taurus, had been im- 
pervious, and almost invisible, to the Greeks. The river yielded a 
free passage to the victorious Zimisces ; and the historian may imi- 
tate the speed with which he overran the once famous cities of 
Samosata, Edessa, Martyropolis, Amida, and Nisibis, the ancient 
limit of the empire in the neighborhood of the Tigris. His ardor 
was quickened by the desire of grasping the virgin treasures of 
Ekbatana, a well-known name, under which the Byzantine writer 
has concealed the capital of the Abbasids. The consternation of 
the fugitives had already diffused the terror of his name, but the 
fancied riches of Bagdad had already been dissipated by the avarice 



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370 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

and prodigality of domestic tyrants. The prayers of the people 
and the stern demands of the lieutenant of the Bowides required 
the caliph to provide for the defense of the city. The helpless 
Muti replied that his arms, his revenues, and his provinces had 
been torn from his hands, and that he was ready to abdicate a 
dignity which he was unable to support. The emir was inexor- 
able; the furniture of the palace was sold; and the paltry price of 
forty thousand pieces of gold was instantly consumed in private 
luxury. But the apprehensions of Bagdad were relieved by the 
retreat of the Greeks: thirst and hunger guarded the desert of 
Mesopotamia ; and the emperor, satiated with glory, and laden with 
Oriental spoils, returned to Constantinople, and displayed, in his 
triumph, the silk, the aromatics, and three hundred myriads of 
gold and silver. 

Yet the powers of the East had been bent, not broken, by 
this transient hurricane. After the departure of the Greeks the 
fugitive princes returned to their capitals; the subjects disclaimed 
their involuntary oaths of allegiance; the Moslems again purified 
their temples, and overturned the idols of the saints and martyrs; 
the Nestorians and Jacobites preferred a Saracen to an ortho- 
dox master; and the numbers and spirit of the Melchites were 
inadequate to the support of the church and state. Of these ex- 
tensive conquests, Antioch, with the cities of Cilicia and the Isle 
of Cyprus, was alone restored, a permanent and useful accession 
to the Roman empire. 



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HISTORY OF ISRAEL 

By Christopher Johnston, Ph. D., 

Associate Professor of Oriental History and Archaeology 
Johns Hopkins University 



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HISTORY OF ISRAEL 

Chapter I 

THE KINGDOM OF ISRAEL 

A CCORDING to their own traditions, supported by the testi- 
L\ mony of history, Israel was a branch of the great Semitic 
X JLrace whose original home is to be sought in the Arabian 
peninsula. Here, for centuries before history begins, the ancestors 
of the race wandered as nomads with their flocks and herds, and 
from Arabia proceeded those waves of migration and conquest 
which finally Semitized the whole of Western Asia. These great 
movements usually extended over considerable periods of time. At 
first a single clan or tribe would push out from their desert home 
in search of fresh pastures for their flocks, and these pioneers would 
be followed by kindred tribes, until continued reinforcements so 
swelled their numbers that they were able to overwhelm the neigh- 
boring settled states. After the culmination of the movement fresh 
bodies of Arabs were attracted by the success of their kinsmen to 
follow in their footsteps. Indeed, there was at all times a constant 
migration of the tribes, in larger or smaller bodies, from the deserts 
of Arabia to the more fertile portions of Western Asia, and not a 
few of these migratory tribes wandered for centuries before they ac- 
quired settled habitations. The ancestors of Israel were of this class. 
Their life, as depicted in the vivid narrative of the Book of Genesis, 
was that of the Beduin of the present day, whose sheiks, when 
uncontaminated by western associations, are true types of Abraham, 
Isaac, and Jacob. Under their patriarchs, the Hebrew tribesmen 
shifted from place to place, seeking new pastures for their cattle, 
frequently at war with their neighbors, and subsisting partly by the 
produce of their herds, partly by the spoil of war and plunder. At 
length, driven by drought and famine, they sought refuge in Egypt, 
where they were allowed to settle in the fertile plains of the Delta, 
and here for a considerable time they made their home, following 
their ancient vocations and preserving their ancestral customs and 
institutions. Such settlements of Beduin clans are by no means 

373 



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374 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

without example in Egyptian history. In the tombs of Beni Hassan, 
dating from about 2000 b. c, may be seen depicted a band of 
Semites who crave and receive permission from the Egyptian gov- 
ernor to take up their abode in the land of Pharaoh, with their 
wives, children, and possessions; and a papyrus of the nineteenth 
dynasty reports that a tribe of Beduins from the land of Edom 
had been admitted into the Delta to seek a support for themselves 
and their herds. Under the favorable conditions afforded by this 
new abode the Hebrew sojourners multiplied greatly, but when in 
course of time their numbers aroused Egyptian apprehension they 
were placed under surveillance and forced labor was exacted from 
them. To free Beduins, as they were, this was intolerable, but for 
a time they were obliged to submit At length, however, the period 
of bondage came to an end. Under their leader, Moses, who stands 
out clearly as no mere personified myth, but as a living historical 
personality, a great religious movement took place. The loosely 
connected tribes were united, and, moved by a common impulse, they 
left Egypt and essayed to cross over into Asia by the Isthmus of 
Suez. Pursued by the Egyptian troops, they were overtaken on the 
shore of the Red Sea, and for a time their situation was most 
perilous. It happened, however, that a strong north wind had pro- 
duced an unusually low tide, and it seemed possible to ford the 
shallow sea. Moses eagerly grasped the opportunity and led his 
people in safety to the further shore. Here the pursuers came up 
with them, but the ground was ill-suited to the movements of a 
chariot force, and the attack was readily repulsed. Falling into 
confusion, the assailants attempted to retreat, but in the meantime 
the wind had veered and they were swallowed up by the returning 
tide. After their departure from Egypt the Hebrew tribes did not 
immediately proceed to the land of Canaan. For a time — the Bibli- 
cal account places its duration at forty years — they dwelt in south- 
ern Palestine, with their headquarters at Kadesh Barnea. Here 
they had their sanctuary and their oracle, and here Moses, their 
ruler and judge, grounded them in the religion of Jahweh and laid 
the foundations of their religious and civil laws. 

The land of Canaan, which was to become the ultimate goal of 
the Hebrew emigrants, was at this time no longer under the domin- 
ion of a single strong power. At a much earlier period it had been 
subject to Babylon, and as late as 1400 b. c. the influence of that 
ancient Semitic metropolis was still so strong that the Babylonian 



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£ -5 



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^Il'RARY 






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ISRAEL 



375 



language and system of writing were regularly employed for pur- 
poses of diplomatic intercourse by the dwellers along the Mediterra- 
nean coast. When, after the expulsion of the Hyksos, Egypt came 
forward as a military power, Palestine was one of her earliest foreign 
possessions, and for a longtime was regularly garrisoned by Egyptian 
troops. In the civil war resulting from the attempt of the heretic 




ROUTT OF THE ISRAELITES 

r*OM 

CtYPT TO CANAAN 



king, Amenophis IV., to force his new religion upon his people, 
Egypt could no longer maintain her hold upon her Asiatic provinces, 
and they rapidly fell away. The celebrated Tell-el-Amarna Tablets, 
of which the great majority consist of letters from Palestinian 
princes and officials to the Egyptian court of this period, give a 
vivid picture of the existing state of affairs. Revolt after revolt is 
reported, and the aid of more troops is constantly demanded. The 
cities are all falling away from the king; the friends of Egypt 
are few and weak, and powerful enemies surround them; unless 



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876 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

promptly supported by strong reinforcements they can no longer 
hold out, and the whole country must soon be lost to the Egyptian 
monarch. Egypt was powerless to help, and Canaan was soon split 
up into numerous small principalities without mutual cohesion, and 
frequently at war among themselves. East of the Jordan the Arab 
tribes from the desert were able to establish a line of states, and only 
their lack of union and the superior military equipment of the 
Canaanites prevented them from invading the land. At this junc- 
ture came Israel's opportunity. Sihon, the Amorite king, whose 
capital was at Heshbon, opposite Jericho, attacked the Moabites, 
and was pressing them hard when their kinsmen, the Hebrews of 
Kadesh Barnea, came to their relief. They overthrew Sihon, broke 
up his kingdom, and established themselves to the north of the 
Arnon, between Moab and Ammon. Having thus obtained a foot- 
hold east of the Jordan, they needed but a breathing space ere they 
were ready to advance into the richer territory to the west, with 
which they were, in a measure, already in touch. 

The division of Israel into twelve tribes representing the de- 
scendants of the twelve sons of Jacob must be considered as the 
genealogical expression of the traditional recollection of the He- 
brews concerning the origin of their nation. In fact, the number 
twelve can only be obtained either by considering Manasseh and 
Ephraim as forming together a single tribe, or by omitting Levi 
from the list. It is further evident that Benjamin, as the youngest, 
represents the latest addition to the main body, while the sons of 
Jacob's concubines do not stand upon the same footing as his sons 
by his wives Leah and Rachel. As a matter of fact, Israel left 
Egypt, not as a nation, but as a loosely connected aggregation of 
tribes, and many new elements were added during the sojourn at 
Kadesh Barnea, which was undoubtedly the formative period of 
the Israelite nationality. Even at the settlement on the Arnon the 
number of tribes was still incomplete. Benjamin was certainly 
added after the invasion of Canaan proper, and it is probable that 
the tribes of Dan, Naphthali, Gad, and Asher represent Canaanite 
elements that associated themselves with the invaders after the 
crossing of the Jordan. It would seem, in fact, that, at the time of 
the departure from Kadesh, Israel consisted of but seven tribes: 
Joseph (later divided into Manasseh and Ephraim), Reuben, Sim- 
eon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulon. It is worthy of note that 
Joseph, though represented as younger by birth and the son of 



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ISRAEL 877 

Jacob's subordinate wife Rachel, is clearly to be recognized in the 
Old Testament narrative as the superior and leader of the other 
tribes. 

The first attempt to gain possession of the territory west of the 
Jordan was made by the tribes Simeon, Levi, and Judah. The two 
former gained a lodgment in the hill country of Ephraim, and 
for a time seem to have cultivated amicable relations with the inhab- 
itants. But a feud broke out with the Canaanites of Shechem. Levi 
was broken and scattered, and Simeon was practically annihilated. 
Judah fared little better. They established themselves upon the 
western slopes of the mountains in the neighborhood of Timna and 
Adullam, but suffered severe losses, from which they did not recover 
until reinforced by the Kenite families from the south. This first 
attempt might have passed without important results had not the 
tribe of Joseph, under their leader Joshua, followed in the footsteps 
of their brethren. Crossing the Jordan, they encamped at Gilgal 
and conquered in rapid succession Jericho, Ai, and Bethel, the latter 
being an ancient seat of worship and occupying a strong strategic 
position. Four other cities, lying a little farther south, Gibeon, 
Kefira, Beeroth, and Kirjath Jearim, immediately submitted, and 
thus secured favorable terms for themselves. The Canaanites were 
now roused to the danger, and a confederation was formed to repel 
the invaders, but Joshua defeated them near Gibeon, and the whole 
central plateau of Palestine thus came into the possession of the 
conquerors. A stable footing thus secured, the ark of Jahweh 
was now brought from Gilgal and placed at Shiloh, in the hill 
country of Ephraim. But though the first great blow had been 
struck, the work of conquest was by no means complete. A new 
Canaanite coalition under Sisera was formed for the purpose of 
expelling the intruders, and it was only by strenuous efforts that 
this danger was averted. Numerous minor conflicts occurred in 
various parts of Canaan, and it was a long time before the indi- 
vidual families and clans were securely established in their new 
possessions. The Arab tribes east of the Jordan, moreover, were 
encouraged by Israel's success to make similar attempts. The Moab- 
ites, Ammonites, and Amalekites took possession of Jericho, and 
Benjamin became tributary to the Moabite king Eglon. The Am- 
monites threatened the territories of Gad in Gilead, and, though 
repulsed by Gideon, were able to establish themselves in the neigh- 
borhood of the Jordan. The most serious menace, however, was on 



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378 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

the part of the Midianites, who overran the lands of Manasseh, also 
in Gilead, and for a time terrorized and oppressed the population. 
They were finally checked by Gideon, who signally defeated them 
in a night attack, and thus gained security for his people. 

If the time of the sojourn at Kadesh Barnea be called the form- 
ative period of Israel's nationality, the time of the judges, follow- 
ing the conquest of Canaan, is to be looked upon as the formative 
period of the Israelite state, and during this period important 
changes occurred. The Israelites, when they entered Canaan, were 
a people of nomad herdsmen and shepherds. In their new home it 
was necessary for them to learn to till the soil and to adapt them- 
selves to a settled mode of life. The conditions under which this 
change was made were not the same in all parts of the land, nor 
was it everywhere effected with equal rapidity. The passage from 
a nomadic life to fixed habitation in towns and cities brought many 
other changes with it. The foundation of the old organization was 
the family, whose head, the father, was the priest and judge of his 
household, his wife and children being his possessions. A number 
of related families formed a clan, at the head of which stood the 
elders, and the tribe was formed by an aggregation of clans. The 
elders formed a sort of council, settling affairs of common interest 
in peace and in war, though in time of war a suitable leader was 
usually chosen. Questions of special importance were sometimes 
decided in popular assemblies, but ordinarily this was the function 
of the elders, who may be compared to the divan of the sheiks 
among the modern Beduins. Such a tribal organization doubtless 
formed a sufficient provision for the needs of a nomadic people, but 
when Israel became a settled nation another system was required. 
The old organization was too loose to be effective under the new 
conditions, and the common worship of Jahweh, their sole common 
bond, was not an influence of sufficient strength to prevent tribal 
dissensions. Local ties and attachments arose, and these would 
frequently become paramount to the tribal connection. The old 
customary law, moreover, did not provide for the new questions 
that arose out of private property in land, and the old usages based 
upon blood kindred were no longer effective. In place of the tribal 
system arose the community, which indeed Israel found ready to 
hand in the Canaanite cities. The old social order was thus dis- 
solved and was only slowly replaced by a new one, which must have 
conformed in the main to that of the Canaanites among whom the 



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ISRAEL 879 

Israelites lived. From the Egyptian inscriptions it appears that a 
sort of oligarchical system prevailed in the Canaanite communities, 
the rule being in the hands of a few families of special prominence, 
and it was this system which was gradually adopted by Israel. In 
spite, however, of all changes, the old tribal feeling survived and 
made itself felt long after the institution from which it sprung had 
become obsolete. 

From the Canaanites the Israelites learned the arts of hus- 
bandry. In so doing they learned not only to plow and sow and 
reap; to cultivate the fig, the olive, and the vine; and to make 
oil and wine; but also to practice the religious rites which were 
equally an indispensable part of ancient agriculture. They made 
their offerings for the grain, the wine, and the oil to the Baals and 
Astartes of the land, who bestowed these gifts upon their worship- 
ers. In so doing they did not dream of abandoning their own God, 
Jahweh, for the gods of Canaan. But Jahweh was a God of war 
and a shepherds' God, whom they honored with the firstlings of 
their flocks and herds, not a God of the fruitful soil. Later, indeed, 
when Canaan had become Israel's land, Jahweh was regarded as 
its proprietor, and the worship of the nameless Baals, without any 
change in its character, was addressed to Jahweh as the Baal of 
Israel. The judgment of the later writers of the Old Testament, 
who see in the whole period of the judges an apostasy from Jahweh 
to Canaanite heathenism, is thus not without foundation. Nor is 
it to be supposed that in the times of the judges themselves there 
were none to protest against the adoption of Canaanite religions. 
On the contrary, there is every reason to suppose that then, as in 
later times, there were zealots for Jahweh who condemned the 
whole Canaanite civilization which Israel had adopted, and con- 
tended for the old purity of life and purity of religion — the ancient 
nomadic ideal. 

It was inevitable that sooner or later the Israelite nationality 
must consolidate into a monarchy, and as a matter of fact this step 
was forced upon them by the conquering progress of the Philis- 
tines. This people, who have long furnished a theme of discussion 
for archaeologists and historians, came probably from Asia Minor, 
and had taken possession of the maritime plain of Palestine north 
of the Egyptian frontier. Their territory embraced what was later 
called the Pentapolis, the district of the five cities — Ekron, Gath, 
Askalon, Ashdod, and Gaza — which, though usually confederated, 



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380 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

preserved their individual autonomy. At Askalon they had their 
naval arsenal, where fleets were fitted out to scour the neighboring 
seas, either as a marine police in the Egyptian service, or for 
piratical expeditions upon their own account, when occasion served, 
along the coasts of Phoenicia. Ekron and Gath kept watch over the 
eastern side of the plain at the points where it was not exposed 
to attack from the people of the hills — at first the Canaanites and 
later the Israelites. A large part of Egypt's trade with Asia was 
carried on through the mouths of the Nile, and of this traffic the 
Phoenicians had a monopoly. The remainder followed the land 
routes, and passed directly through the territory of the Philistines, 
who charged themselves with the maintenance of the great com- 
mercial highway in their hands and with the security of the mer- 
chants who made use of it. For these services they exacted the 
same tolls that had been levied by the Canaanites before them. In 
their efforts to put down brigandage they were brought in collision 
with some of the Hebrew claims after the latter had taken possession 
of Canaan. That the Israelites were directly the aggressors is 
improbable. Their lightly armed troops, that up to this time had 
known only warfare among the mountains, were not in a position 
to attack the formidable troops and war chariots of the Philistines on 
their own ground, the open plain. Moreover, the first conflict took 
place on the mountain slopes south of Shechem, a clear proof that 
Israel stood on the defensive. After the first defeat the Israelites, 
composed chiefly of the tribes of Benjamin and Ephraim, brought 
the sacred ark from Shiloh into their camp that their God might 
help them to victory. Their hope was vain. Israel was defeated, 
and the ark itself fell into the hands of the enemy. At this blow 
Israel's confidence in the protection of Jahweh was rudely shaken, 
and the land fell an easy prey to the Philistines, who established 
their governor in Gibea and probably destroyed the temple at 
Shiloh at this time. How far they extended their dominion is 
not altogether certain, but it is probable that, while the lower dis- 
tricts north of Shechem as far as the plain of Jezreel became tribu- 
tary to the enemy, the mountains of Judah remained unconquered, 
owing to the difficult nature of the land. The story of the ark is 
well known. A plague visiting the coast was attributed to the 
anger of Jahweh, unwilling that his sacred symbol should remain 
in hostile hands, and it went from city to city, but none would take 
it in. Finally the matter was left to the decision of Jahweh him- 



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ISRAEL 881 

self. The ark was placed on a wagon, and two milch kine drew it 
to the Israelite locality of Beth-shemesh. At first it was joyfully 
greeted, but here again a plague broke out, and it became an object 
of terror. Finally it found a resting place in the house of Amina- 
dab at Kirjath Jearim, and there it long remained. 

The situation of Israel was most critical. The loss of their 
independence meant the loss of their national identity, of all the work 
of Moses, and of all that had been gained since the migration to 
Canaan. But the darkest hour came before the dawn ; and it was 
this very danger and trial that gave rise to a united Israel, and 
originated the monarchy. At this period of Israel's gloom one man 
stands out preeminent — Samuel, the seer and priest who lived in 
the district of Zoph on Mount Ephraim. He had doubtless long 
taken to heart the sorrows of Israel, and had pondered deeply 
over the remedy, and the chance that brought Saul to him found 
him not unprepared. He was seeking a hero who, through the 
power of Jahweh's name, could rouse the people from their sullen 
despair, bring together the disunited tribes, and infuse them with 
animation. In Saul ben Kish of Gibea he found the man he sought, 
the deliverer appointed by Jahweh. Treating him in public with 
great distinction, he conversed with him in private, announced 
to him that Jahweh had chosen him to be king over his people, 
and anointed him with oil as a visible token of his appointment. 
By this act Samuel introduced the monarchy as the special ordinance 
of Jahweh. After this Saul returned to his village, but an oppor- 
tunity soon came that showed the wisdom of Samuel's choice. The 
city of Jabesh in Gilead was besieged by Nahash the Ammonite and 
sought terms of capitulation, but the terms of Nahash were hard. 
He would spare their lives, but he would put out the right eye 
of every man, and thus bring lasting shame upon Israel. The 
men of Jabesh made a last effort. They sent out messengers through 
all Israel imploring help, and stating that unless relieved within 
seven days they must surrender upon any terms. The messengers 
met with much sympathy, but no effectual aid, and there seemed 
to be none to take the initiative. Saul learned the news as he was 
coming home from the field with his oxen, and was filled with 
indignation. Slaying his oxen, he cut them in pieces and sent 
the pieces throughout Israel with the pithy message : " Whosoever 
cometh not forth after Saul, and after Samuel, so shall it be done 
unto his oxen." Saul's message was effective and he soon had a 



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882 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

considerable force tinder his command. He led them by a night 
march to the camp of the Ammonites, which he surprised and at- 
tacked at early dawn, utterly routing the enemy. This brave deed 
not only rescued Jabesh, but gave Saul the prestige that he needed. 
The army marched back to Gilgal, and there Saul was hailed as 
king, amid the acclamations of the people. Here and there some 
opposition occurred and the free tribes bowed to the king with 
reluctance, but the monarchy was recognized by the majority as the 
only hope of salvation, and Saul was regarded as the chosen of 
Jahweh. He ruled at first merely over the tribes of Benjamin, 
Ephraim, and Manasseh, and perhaps also over the more northerly 
tribes. Judah can hardly have taken part in the brief campaign 
against the Ammonites. According to the account given in the 
Book of Samuel, the new king had at his disposal an army of 
3000 men, and with these he took the field against the Philistines. 
The signal for revolt was given by his son Jonathan, who drove 
out the Philistine garrison at Gibea. Israel followed Saul, but 
lost courage when their much dreaded foes appeared, and pitched 
their camp at Michmash in the mountain land. Many deserted and 
took refuge in the mountain recesses, so that Saul was left with 
but 600 men. At this critical juncture Jonathan and his armor- 
bearer surprised the Philistine post placed to watch the ravine 
between Michmash and Gibea, and put it to the sword. The alarm 
was communicated to the Philistines, and an earthquake threw them 
into further confusion. Saul, seeing in the earthquake the direct 
interposition of Jahweh in favor of his people, promptly seized the 
opportunity and boldly led his little army against the enemy. Those 
Israelites who had been forced to serve with the Philistines went 
over in a body to their brethren, the fugitives came forth from 
their hiding places in the mountains, the army of Saul swelled as 
it advanced, and the Philistines were forced to seek safety in the 
plain. This second success was more splendid than the first success 
over the Ammonites. It was a success against the dreaded op- 
pressors of Israel. Jahweh himself had taken part in the fray, and 
Saul's hand was wonderfully strengthened. He brought together 
the tribes of Israel, even including Judah, that hitherto had been 
but lukewarm, and, while still carrying on the war against the 
Philistines, sought to strengthen his kingdom in every way. On 
all sides he made Israel respected, and took the necessary measures 
for the protection of his frontier. It was part of Saul's policy to 



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ISRAEL 888 

attach to himself men of courage and action from all parts of 
Israel, both for the help they gave him and also the better to 
consolidate the interests of the whole people. Among these men 
was a young man of distinction, David ben Jesse of Bethlehem, 
who enjoyed high reputation as a warrior and was advanced to 
important posts under the king. He rapidly won the king's favor, 
contracted a lasting friendship with his son, Jonathan, and by 
obtaining in marriage Saul's younger daughter, became a member 
of the royal family. How the differences between Saul and David 
arose it is difficult to say. The king was at times afflicted with 
melancholia, which took the form of fits of morose, sullen brooding, 
and in such cases it is very common for the sufferer to imagine 
that wrongs have been done him. At any rate, Saul seems to have 
had the idea that David consorted with his opponents, and appar- 
ently suspected him of plotting against him. Moreover, David's 
successes and his great popularity aroused Saul's jealousy, and he 
brooded over these things to such an extent that, finally, in an 
outburst of rage, he flung his javelin at David as he was playing 
to him on the harp. David escaped to his home and, by the aid of 
his wife, reached his tribe in safety, but he could not live there 
openly. Placing his family with the king of Moab, who received 
them kindly, he took refuge in the cave of Adullam on the Philis- 
tine frontier, gathered a considerable following, and lived the life 
of a freebooter and outlaw. At first he endeavored to carry on 
a guerrilla warfare with the Philistines, and even gained possession 
of the town of Keilah, but on the approach of the king he was 
forced to abandon the place and take refuge again in the moun- 
tains. Finally he was obliged to join the Philistines, and Achish, 
king of Gath, assigned him the city of Ziklag in the south. Here 
he carried on a clever policy, pretending to raid the Israelites, while 
he really harried the Amalekites and other tribes in the south. He 
could hardly have carried on the deception very long, but matters 
soon came to a crisis. When the Philistines marched against Saul, 
David was commanded to accompany them, but the chiefs of the 
Philistines suspected his loyalty, and he was obliged to leave the 
camp. On his return to Ziklag, finding that the city had been 
pillaged in his absence by the Amalekites, he pursued the marauders, 
chastised them severely, and took from them rich spoils. This wealth 
he sent in presents to the Judaean chiefs, the Calebites and others 
in whose districts he had previously found hospitable reception. 



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384 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

In the meantime the Philistines had gained a great victory over 
Saul on the plain of Jezreel, where their heavy armed troops had 
the advantage, and where the king of Israel had rashly risked 
a general engagement in the open. The Israelite army was badly 
defeated, three of the king's sons, including Jonathan, fell in the 
battle, and Saul himself, yielding to despair, fell on his sword and 
slew himself. David felt by this time that the territory of the 
Philistines was no safe place for him, and he sought to return to 
Judah. He had already paved the way by his gifts, and now the 
death of Saul left the coast clear. Accordingly David went to 
Hebron, in the territory of the Calebites, and was there crowned king 
of Judah, a circumstance of high importance for the whole subse- 
quent history of Israel. Judah had hitherto been a rather luke- 
warm adherent. Even under Saul the tie was rather a loose one, 
for Judah lay separated from its nearest congener, Benjamin, by 
Jerusalem, then in the hands of the Jebusites, and its neighboring 
territory. It was David, therefore, who completed the work of 
Saul in this, as in other, respects, and who welded the southern to 
the northern tribes. It was through David also that Judah was 
brought into firmer relations with the religion of Jahweh and 
purged of the heathenism to which it had yielded in part. But 
although now king of Judah, David had yet to extend his sway 
over Israel. After Saul's death his cousin, Abner, had brought 
a surviving son of the king, named Ish-bosheth, to Manahaim, where 
he was crowned and acknowledged king over all the tribes but 
Judah. Hostilities broke out and lasted for three years, with the 
advantage on the side of David, until finally Ish-bosheth was mur- 
dered, and his murderers fled to David, expecting to receive a 
reward. But David abhorred the deed. Regarding himself as a 
member of the house of Saul, whose daughter he had married, he 
took on himself the duty of blood revenge, and had the murderers 
executed. Accounts derived from Israelite sources hint that David 
connived at or even instigated the deed, but this is contradicted 
by all that is known of his character. He had his failings, it is 
true, and was at times mastered by his strong passions, but of 
murder, dictated by cold policy, he was certainly not guilty. The 
question as to whether David would be accepted by Israel as well 
as Judah was soon settled. The conquest of the Jebusites of Jeru- 
salem broke down the barrier between Israel and Judah, and, when 
this was accomplished, the representatives of all Israel came to 



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ISRAEL 885 

Hebron and saluted David as king. This was the signal for the 
Philistines to attack. So long as Israel and Judah were at war 
the Philistines did not feel called upon to interfere, but as soon 
as the belligerents became reconciled and presented a united front 
against them it was necessary to take measures in their own inter- 
est. Invading Judah, they endeavored to seize the newly crowned 
king, but David was wary. He risked no great battle in the open, 
but harassed the enemy in countless skirmishes, and took constant 
advantage of the nature of the country to lay ambushes for them and 
to attack them by surprise where their superior arms and organiza- 
tion did not avail. Saul had risked all on a single battle, but David 
did not fall into the same error. He was, moreover, thoroughly 
familiar with the enemy's tactics, and was thus able to make the 
more effective dispositions against them. Finally the last invader 
was driven from the land, and David was king over a united people. 
More than this, under the king's prudent and skillful guidance Israel 
gathered such strength and war-like experience that the war was 
carried into the enemy's country, Gath fell before them, and David 
thus acquired the suzerainty over Philistia. Adhering to the policy 
of his predecessor, David strengthened the frontiers of his king- 
dom, especially in the land east of the Jordan, greatly extended 
his dominions, and laid many of the surrounding peoples under 
tribute. He placed his kingdom upon a solid foundation, and, by 
making the power of Israel respected, won security for his people. 
The time of Saul's reign was ill-adapted for any show of regal 
splendor, and Saul, while king, had attempted nothing of the kind, 
but had lived the simple life of the people. In David's time cir- 
cumstances were very different, and it was necessary for him to 
maintain a state befitting his rank. Choosing as his capital the 
newly conquered city of Jerusalem, a central point whence he might 
exercise sway over the whole people, he built there a residence for 
his family and court. He also endeavored by the adoption of old 
traditions to enhance the dignity of his new capital in the eyes 
of Israel. Sending to Kirjath Jearim, he brought thence the sacred 
ark, installed it in Jerusalem, with appropriate ceremonies, and 
instituted priests and regular offerings. Thus arose the first royal 
sanctuary. It formed a part of the royal residence and pertained spe- 
cially to the king, while the ark gave it peculiar sanctity. In this, as 
in all other ways, David sought to bring himself in close contact with 
the worship of Jahweh, and to appear in the eyes of the people as 



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886 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

the anointed of the Lord. But however successful David was in 
the field and in political matters, he met with misfortunes in his 
family. By the rebellion of his son, Absalom, he was driven from 
Jerusalem, but by shrewd tactics gained time to gather an army, 
and Absalom was defeated and slain. His death affected David so 
powerfully that he refused to be comforted, and it was only on 
the energetic remonstrances of his general, Joab, that he finally 
consented to appear in public and receive his victorious army. The 
question of the succession to the throne gave rise to much intrigue 
in the king's family. It is true that the eldest son had certain rights, 
but whether they included the right of succession, or whether the 
king had the right of nominating his successor, had yet to be tested. 
It is clear from the Old Testament narrative that this was a debated 
question at David's court, and both sides of the question found ad- 
herents. After the death of Absalom, Adonijah was the eldest 
living son of David, and he certainly considered that he had a 
right to the succession. In this view he was supported by men 
of high standing, like Joab, the king's counselor and general, and 
Abiathar, the high priest. David, however, had sworn to his wife, 
Bathsheba, that her son Solomon should succeed him, and this side 
of the question, involving the right of the king to name his own 
successor, was supported by no less a person than the prophet 
Nathan. Matters soon came to a climax. Adonijah gave a feast, 
to which he invited all his brothers, with the marked exception 
of Solomon, and all his own adherents, carefully omitting Nathan 
and others of Solomon's party. So assured did Adonijah feel of 
his position that on this occasion he even caused or allowed himself 
to be hailed as king. Solomon's party was prompt to act. Bath- 
sheba, well schooled by Nathan, went to the king and, reminding 
him of his promise to her, informed him of Adonijah's proceeding. 
David as usual formed his resolution promptly. He saw that, un- 
less he interfered, there was danger of a breach in the kingdom and 
a war of succession. He confirmed his promise to Bathsheba, and, 
hastily summoning Zadok, Nathan, and Benaiah, caused them to 
take Solomon to Gihon in the Kedron valley, escorted by an im- 
posing retinue, and there anoint and proclaim him king. David's 
orders were carried out without delay, and his action was greeted 
by the people with joy. Adonijah's party, taken completely by 
surprise, scattered in all directions, and Adonijah himself took 
sanctuary, but came forth upon assurance of safety, and rendered 



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ISRAEL 887 

homage to Solomon. Soon after this event David seems to have 
died. He was a man eminently fitted to rule. As a warrior, he 
not only possessed great personal courage, but was also a strategist 
of flo mean ability, as he showed by his conduct of the Philistine 
wars. As a ruler he was just and equitable. He possessed con- 
summate tact, and had the gift of personal magnetism in an un- 
common degree. His reputation as a poet and musician doubtless 
rested upon good grounds, and these accomplishments mark a de- 
gree of culture which must have been rare at that time in Israel. 
His affection for his family is well known, and the sincerity of 
his religion cannot be doubted. He brought to a successful com- 
pletion, in a way that perhaps no man then living could have 
done, the work begun by Saul, and at his death he left a strong 
and united Israel — a kingdom compact and well organized, stable 
at home and respected abroad. He had his faults, it is true. Like 
many other great men, he was peculiarly susceptible to feminine 
charms, and his behavior in the matter of Uriah's wife is the one 
dark blot on his character. But when reproached with his crime by 
Nathan, his frank confession was worthy a man and a king. David, 
with all his weaknesses, was a king who deserved all the gratitude 
and admiration lavished upon him by his people. 

In David's old age a beautiful damsel, Abishag, from Shunem 
in Issachar, had been provided as a companion for him, and after 
his death she remained at court Adonijah desired to have her, and 
requested Bathsheba to use her influence with Solomon in his be- 
half. To the king, however, the matter did not appear so simple. 
Marriage with the king's widow established a sort of claim, and 
Ish-bosheth, the son of Saul, had similarly regarded a request of 
Abner, and had directly accused him of aiming at the succession. 
Solomon now took the same view, and determined to get rid of 
Adonijah, whom he regarded as aiming at the throne, or who 
might at any time become a dangerous competitor. He therefore 
caused Adonijah to be put to death, together with those whom 
he considered as belonging to his party. Joab was slain, and 
Abiathar, who owed his life to his priestly rank, was ordered to 
leave Jerusalem and retire to his estates. The most important 
event of Solomon's reign was the reappearance of the Egyptians 
in southern Syria to renew their claims of sovereignty over their 
old dominions, but how far they succeeded is uncertain. The city 
of Gezer, which they captured and gave to Solomon, commanded the 



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888 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

important trade route to the Euphrates, and it is fair to presume 
that the country to the south fell into their hands. It is probable 
that Solomon, who became the ally of Egypt and cemented the 
alliance by marriage with an Egyptian princess, undertook, in re- 
turn for the recognition of his sovereignty and the cession of Gezer, 
to keep open and protect the trade route upon which Egypt's com- 
merce in this direction depended. If this be the case, the service 
he rendered was of the most important character. As a grain- 
growing country Egypt must find a market for her grain, and if 
the sea route alone were open, a monopoly of the trade would 
fall into the hands of the Phoenicians, who would thus be enabled 
to buy at their own price. Moreover, in the matter of grain Baby- 
lonia was a dangerous competitor and, with the land route closed, 
Egypt was practically excluded from the Euphratean market. If, 
however, this important route were kept open, Egypt could com- 
pete with Babylonia without being forced to use the Phoenicians 
as middlemen. Another important event about this time was the 
founding of the kingdom of Damascus, which later became a dan- 
gerous rival of Israel. 

Solomon maintained a considerable standing army, built and 
garrisoned a number of strongholds, and in general maintained 
the kingdom of David in its integrity. His building operations, to 
which he gave great attention, included a new palace, the temple, 
the walls of Jerusalem, the border fortresses, and the garrison and 
provision towns. For these costly undertakings he had to employ 
Phoenician architects and artisans, though he forced large numbers 
of his own people to serve as laborers. As he did not have the 
cash to pay the foreign artisans, he was obliged to cede to King 
Hiram of Tyre certain territory in the northern part of Israel's 
domains. The exaction of forced labor from the people gave rise 
to much discontent, and Jeroboam's rebellion was an outcome of 
this feeling, but Solomon was too strong, and Jeroboam had to 
take refuge in Egypt. Solomon, with his buildings, his riches, and 
his love of splendor, was the typical Oriental despot. His ruling 
motive was not the good of his people, but his own aggrandize- 
ment, and yet his course bore valuable fruit. He forced his people 
up to the level of the culture then prevailing in Western Asia, a 
condition essential to the position they were later to occupy in 
the world's history. Under his reign the people of Israel took 
yet another step forward. From a nomadic they had become a 



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ISRAEL 889 

settled people, and they had fought out their independence and 
acquired their unity in the Philistine wars. Under David they 
gained a solid organization, and now they took their place as a 
civilized nation alongside their neighbors. 

The death of Solomon was destined to disturb the existing 
order. David's personal magnetism and tact had kept the dis- 
cordant elements, Israel and Judah, from actual rupture, but he 
had been unable to weld them together. The splendor of Solomon's 
reign had not improved the situation in this respect; indeed, his 
oppression had made matters worse. After his death Jeroboam, 
shrewdly gauging the popular sentiment, ventured to return from 
Egypt, and called a meeting at Shechem of all the tribes except 
Judah. Rehoboam, who had ascended the throne of his father, 
Solomon, at Jerusalem, also appeared at Shechem, in order to be 
crowned there and to treat with Israel. He was coolly received, 
and the demand was presented to him that he should lighten the 
people's burdens. With headstrong folly he rejected the advice 
of his older and more experienced counselors, and declared that, 
so far from lessening the burdens, he would add to them. He 
would be king in fact, as well as in name, and could endure no 
interference. At this Israel broke out in open rebellion. Rehoboam 
was forced to return to Jerusalem in hasty flight, and when he 
sent his taskmaster, Adoniram, that officer was stoned to death. 
The breach was complete : Israel and Judah had parted, never more 
to unite. Rehoboam ruled in Jerusalem over Judah, while Jero- 
boam was made king of the northern kingdom of Israel, embracing 
the territory of the other ten tribes. Rehoboam, who could ill 
brook the loss of the fairest portion of his kingdom, promptly de- 
clared war against the Israelites as rebels, and hostilities were 
carried on between the two kingdoms for the space of some sixty 
years, covering the reigns of Rehoboam and his immediate suc- 
cessors, Abijah, Asa, and Jehoshaphat. At first Rehoboam, aided 
by the treasures and materials of war accumulated by his father, 
Solomon, gained some successes, but in the end the advantage rested 
with Israel. In the meantime, in Israel, the dynasty of Jeroboam 
ended with his son, Nadab, who was murdered, together with his 
whole family, by Baasha ben Abijah of the tribe of Issachar, and 
Elah, the son and successor of this usurper, was slain, after a reign 
of two years, by Zimri, the commander of his chariot forces. The 
army, however, then in the field against the Philistines proclaimed 



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390 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

their general, Omri, as king, and Zimri, besieged in his capital, 
Tirzah, and seeing no hope of escape, set fire to the royal palace 
and perished in the flames, after a reign of only seven days. At 
first Omri met with some opposition, and another pretender, Tibni 
ben Ginath, held out against him for some time. Gradually, how- 
ever, Omri's party became the stronger, and, after Tibni's death, 
his rule was undisputed. Some two years after his accession he 
removed his capital from Tirzah to Samaria, a site admirably 
adapted to the purpose on account of its central location and its 
strong strategic position. Omri, a valiant soldier and a prudent 
ruler, now raised Israel to a position of strength and influence 
among the surrounding states. He married his son, Ahab, to Jez- 
ebel, daughter of Ithobaal (Ethbaal), king of Tyre, thus ce- 
menting an advantageous alliance with the powerful Phoenician 
state, and he seems also to have subdued and made tributary the 
northern part of Moab. Against the Syrian kingdom of Damascus 
Omri was less successful. He lost several towns on his northern 
frontier and was obliged to concede special privileges to the Syrian 
merchants in his capital, Samaria. His son and successor, Ahab, 
concluded peace with Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, and thus put 
an end to the long period of warfare between the two kindred 
kingdoms. About this time a new power appeared in the field. The 
Assyrians had for some time been pushing their way westward 
toward the Mediterranean coast and, in 854 b. c, advanced as far 
as Aleppo. At Karkar, on the Euphrates, they were met by a 
coalition of Syrian princes, among whom were Hadadezer of Da- 
mascus and Ahab of Israel. Shalmaneser, the Assyrian king, claims 
the victory, but as he retired homeward immediately after the 
battle it may be conjectured that his boast was a vain one. Although 
thus united for the moment by the common danger, Israel and 
Damascus were by no means upon friendly terms. Some three 
years before the battle of Karkar, Hadadezer had besieged Samaria, 
but was defeated by the skillful tactics of Ahab, and a year after 
this, as the result of a campaign in the open field, Israel regained 
the frontier towns that had been acquired by Syria during Omri's 
reign. In 853, a year after the battle of Karkar, hostilities again 
broke out, and Ahab, though he gained the victory, lost his life 
in battle. 

The influence of Canaanite culture and the growing tendency 
to heathenism arising from it had long been looked upon with 



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ISRAEL 891 

abhorrence by certain zealous followers of Jahweh, and this feeling 
was evidenced in the formation of several ascetic bodies. The 
Nazirites, vowed to the service of Israel's God, drank no wine and 
allowed their hair to grow long in token of their vow. The 
Rechabites, whose founder, Jonadab ben Rechab, was a contempo- 
rary of Jehu, not only abstained from wine, but dwelt in tents, took 
no part in the cultivation of the soil and, living as herdsmen and 
shepherds, endeavored to cling closer to the ancient ideals and to 
preserve the purity and simplicity of Jahweh's worship. Of greater 
importance were the prophets, who first make their appearance about 
the time of Saul. The earlier prophets were composed of zealous 
worshipers associated together in bands, practising peculiar rites, 
and carrying religious enthusiasm to the pitch of ecstasy, which they 
regarded as the sign of divine inspiration. Their sole object was 
the attainment of a higher degree of personal holiness, and they 
had no ulterior aim. In course of time a change came about. The 
later prophets, while still dwelling together in communities and 
wearing a peculiar dress, discarded the orgiastic practices of their 
predecessors, and took up the nobler task of furthering the cause of 
Jahweh by the edifying example of their lives and by instructing the 
people in the will of God. In the ancient world religion and pa- 
triotism were inseparable, and it was not long before the prophets 
became an influence in the state, though only a few of them attained 
to special prominence. In the reign of Ahab the prophet Elijah 
stands out preeminently, and his disciple and successor, Elisha, 
thoroughly imbued with the views of his predecessor, was able by 
his personal influence and authority to bring about the fall of the 
house of Omri. Ahab, in compliment to his Tyrian wife, Jezebel, 
had permitted the building in Samaria of a temple to Baal of Tyre. 
Ahab was himself a worshiper of Jahweh ; his action in the matter 
was largely due to political considerations, and he had as a prece- 
dent the example of Solomon in a similar case. The mass of the 
people certainly found nothing offensive in it. To Elijah it was 
nothing short of sacrilege. Jahweh alone was Israel's God, and 
he should not be insulted by the presence of a rival in his own 
domain. Ahab was an apostate, and on him and on the foreign 
princes, to whose influence his deed was ascribed, should- fall the 
vengeance of the offended Deity. After the judicial murder of 
Naboth and the seizure of his inheritance, the indignation of 
Elijah knew no bounds, and entering the royal presence he fear- 



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892 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

lessly spoke his message before Jezebel and the king, who shared 
the results of her crime. The death of Ahab in battle against 
the Syrians was regarded as a partial fulfillment of Elijah's proph- 
ecy. In 844 b. c. Hazael ascended the throne of Damascus, and 
shortly thereafter hostilities with Israel broke out afresh. Jehoram, 
the son of Ahab, who became king on the death of his brother, 
Ahaziah, was wounded in battle and retired to Jezreel, leaving his 
general, Jehu, in command of the army. Elijah was dead, but his 
mantle had fallen on Elisha, and the prophet thought the moment 
ripe for the long-contemplated overthrow of the house of Omri 
and for uprooting the worship of Baal in Israel. Sending a prophet 
to the camp at Ramoth, he caused him secretly to anoint Jehu as 
king of Israel. As soon as the fact became known, Jehu was pro- 
claimed by the army, and promptly followed up his advantage. 
Hastening swiftly to Jezreel, he met, on his way thither, Jehoram, 
accompanied by his nephew, Ahaziah, king of Judah. Jehoram 
turned to flee, but fell from his chariot, pierced from behind 
by an arrow, and Ahaziah escaped, mortally wounded, to Megiddo, 
where he died. Pushing on to Jezreel, Jehu caused Jezebel to be 
thrown from a window of the palace, and she perished beneath 
his horses' feet. The authorities of Samaria, struck with terror at 
Jehu's approach, sought to gain his favor by sending him the heads 
of seventy persons, descendants or relatives of Ahab, and in a 
brief time the house of Omri was annihilated. Having thus gained 
secure possession of the throne, the first care of Jehu was to root 
out the worship of Baal, and he did4iis work so thoroughly that 
thenceforth the worship of foreign gods is found no more in Israel. 
In 842 b. c. Shalmaneser, king of Assyria, invaded Syria 
for the fifth time, and directed his attack against the kingdom of 
Damascus. Hazael was defeated and took refuge in his capital, 
where he was fruitlessly besieged. On this occasion Jehu sent gifts 
to the Assyrian monarch, and thereby proclaimed himself the friend 
of Assyria and the enemy of Hazael. After another raid in 839 
the Assyrian attacks ceased for a considerable time, and the Medi- 
terranean states were left to their own devices. The war between 
Damascus and Israel was promptly renewed, and for some time the 
advantage was with the former state. Under Jehoahaz, the son 
and successor of Jehu, Israel lost a large part of her territory and 
only maintained her independence with the greatest difficulty. About 
805, however, Adad-nihan, king of Assyria, appeared before 



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394. ANCIENT EMPIRES 

tribute. For some years Hoshea paid his tribute regularly, and 
the land enjoyed a brief period of rest and security, but in the 
death of Tiglath-Pileser in 727 the Syro-Palestinian states saw an 
opportunity to regain their independence, and Hoshea took part in 
the general revolt against Assyria. Shalmeneser IV., the successor 
of Tiglath-Pileser, invaded Israel and laid siege to Samaria, which 
held out bravely for three years (724-722). Shalmaneser died near 
the close of the siege, but the city was forced to surrender to his 
successor, Sargon. Hoshea, loaded with chains, was cast into 
prison, and 27,280 of the inhabitants were deported to Mesopotamia 
and Media, their places being filled by colonists brought from other 
parts of the Assyrian Empire. The kingdom of Israel had fallen, 
never to rise again, its people were scattered, the land became a 
province of the conquerors, and an Assyrian governor ruled in 
Samaria, its ancient capital. 



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896 



ANCIENT EMPIRES 



which his father had opened the way by his victory over the 
Edomites, and gained some successes in warfare with the Philistines. 
After a long and prosperous reign he became afflicted with leprosy, 
and abdicated in favor of his son, Jotham, who, in his turn, was 
succeeded by his son, Ahaz. It was this ruler who, driven to ex- 
tremities by the combined attack of Israel and Damascus, invoked 



Kcm 



THE TRIBES OF ISRAEL * 




THC KINGDOMS Of 
JUQAH AND ISIUfL 



**» 



the aid of Assyria and saved his kingdom only by becoming an 
Assyrian vassal. This step, however urgent the necessity that called 
it forth, was mortifying to the national pride, and Hezekiah, who 
succeeded his father, Ahaz, about 720, or shortly before, was very 
strongly infused with patriotic resentment against Assyria. An op- 
portunity to give expression to this feeling soon occurred. On the 
death of Shalmaneser IV., the Chaldean prince, Merodach-baladan, 
seized upon Babylonia and had himself crowned king in Babylon. 
In order to secure himself in his new position, he sought alliance 



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ISRAEL 397 

with the Syro-Palestinian states, and to this end sent an embassy to 
Hezekiah, inviting the king of Judah to make common cause with 
him against Assyria. Hamath on the Orontes was already prepar- 
ing to revolt, with the support of Arpad, Simirra, Damascus, and 
Samaria, and Hanno of Gaza and Sib'i, the general of Pir'u, king 
of the north Arabian district of Musur, were associated with the 
movement, which, aided by Merodach-baladan, seemed to offer a 
fair prospect of success. How deeply Hezekiah was concerned in 
this affair it is difficult to say. At all events, the coalition was 
promptly crushed by Sargon, and Hezekiah seems to have been 
wary enough to escape the consequences of an open rebellion. In 
711 he certainly took part, with Edom, Moab, and the Philistine 
cities, in an attempt to cast off the Assyrian yoke, but this revolt 
also was suppressed, and Hezekiah had to pay a heavy fine for his 
offense. But the hope of independence was not yet extinguished, 
and, on the death of Sargon in 705, there were renewed outbreaks, 
both in the south and in the west. Merodach-baladan again seized 
upon Babylon and while Sennacherib, the son and successor of 
Sargon, was occupied in this quarter, the Phoenician and Palestin- 
ian states once more prepared to revolt. The revolt, however, broke 
out prematurely. The people of Ekron rose against Padi, their 
king, a tool of Assyria, and delivered him into the hands of Heze- 
kiah of Judah, who cast him into prison. In the meantime 
Sennacherib had expelled Merodach-baladan from Babylon and was 
now free to direct his attention to affairs in the west. Suddenly 
appearing in that quarter with an army, he caught the confederates 
unprepared, and marched down the coast, receiving the submission 
of city after city in his progress. Judah was ravaged, Hezekiah 
was besieged in Jerusalem, and, though he gave up his prisoner 
Padi and paid an enormous sum as a ransom for himself and his 
city, Sennacherib was still unsatisfied. At this juncture an Egyp- 
tian army appeared in the south, and, though Sennacherib claims 
the victory in the engagement with the Egyptians, he evidently met 
with some disaster, since he retired to Assyria and invaded Pales- 
tine no more. In the reign of Esarhaddon, the son of Sennacherib, 
the Assyrian Empire reached the culmination of its glory and power. 
Western Asia from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean owned 
the sway of the Assyrian monarch, and Egypt as far south as Thebes 
was forced to submit to him. Against this great power a small 
state like Judah could not hope to stand, and a voluntary submission 



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S98 ANCIENT EMPIRES 

was the only popular course. Manasseh, who succeeded his father, 
Hezekiah, upon the throne of Judah, clearly perceived that his best 
interest lay in adherence to Assyria, and, though invited to join the 
revolt of Shamash-shum-ukin, king of Babylon, against his brother, 
Ashur-bani-pal, king of Assyria, both sons of Esarhaddon, he held 
cautiously aloof. It is true that he withheld his tribute so long 
as the affair was in doubt, but as soon as the revolt was crushed he 
hastened to renew his allegiance and pay homage to the victor. 
Manasseh's son, Amon, trod in his father's footsteps during his 
brief reign of two years. Amon was succeeded, in 640 b. a, by his 
eighteen-year-old son, Josiah, whose reign brought with it a reaction 
against the ultra-liberal tendencies of Manasseh and Amon in the 
matter of religion. The last two monarchs, in spite of the vehement 
opposition of the prophetic party, had introduced into the national 
worship a number of innovations derived from Assyrian and Ca- 
naanite sources, and had freely tolerated the worship of foreign gods. 
Under Josiah the party of the prophets gained the upper hand, and 
a great religious reform took place. In 621 the Book of Deuter- 
onomy was discovered, and sent by Hilkiah, the high priest, to 
Josiah, and the king, upon hearing it read, was so deeply impressed 
that he ordered its precepts to be carried into effect without delay. 
The worship of foreign gods in Judah and the heathen observances 
that had crept into the popular cult were strenuously suppressed and 
the symbols of heathen worship were destroyed throughout the 
land. Even the local sanctuaries of Jahweh were abolished, and 
the temple at Jerusalem b